Rangers blast Bruins 7-4, takeover as top team in the league

NHL: Boston Bruins at New York Rangers
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

On a day the New York Rangers celebrated Henrik Lundqvist’s recent induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, all eyes were on this Clash of the Titans contest with the league-leading Boston Bruins in town. Statistically, this afternoon’s matinee was billed as the two teams with the lowest goals-against averages ready to defend and try to get a few goals to secure a victory.

However, the opposite happened at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, as the Rangers erupted for seven goals against Linus Ullmark. In comparison, Jonathan Quick outdueled his counterpart by surrendering just four goals, allowing New York to waltz away with a 7-4 win and top spot in the conference.

That was something.” Peter Laviolette said. “A lot of emotions from both teams invested in that game. We forged through until the end against a really good hockey team.”

Surprisingly, the two netminders had substandard performances. Still, all the stars came out to play on Broadway, with Chris Kreider, Artemi Panarin, and David Pastrnak finding the back of the net in the first meeting of these Original Six franchises this season. Even though each team dominated for lengthy periods, the game belonged to the Rangers, who had just shown the hockey world that this season would be different than previous ones.

After the final buzzer, the Rangers now sit atop the NHL standings with 31 points (tied with Boston) and an .816 points percentage.

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New York Rangers 7 vs Boston Bruins 4

NHL: Boston Bruins at New York Rangers
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers came out of the gate flying, registering the game’s first two goals before 11 minutes even clicked off the clock. The Blueshirts also fed off the home crowd with hits and glorious scoring chances, showcasing that this year’s team is ready to tangle with the league’s best teams.

Even though both teams skated in games yesterday, New York was hungry from the get-go, keeping the Bruins to one shot attempt (Pastrnak post) in the first 12 minutes. However, it appeared to be too little too late since the home team already built a comfortable two-goal lead.

Despite dominating in the faceoff circle, the Rangers grabbed a 1-0 lead on a costly Boston turnover, with Nick Bonino tallying his first goal of the year at 5:58 of the first period. Then, within five minutes, Kreider buried a power play lamplighter that got the crowd fired up with his second goal in the past 24 hours. Ultimately, one of the key takeaways from New York’s success on the power play is the addition of Erik Gustafsson, who set up the goal and has proven to be one of the best low-key free-agent signings this past summer.

Interestingly, New York seemed to take their foot off the gas, allowing the Bruins to claw back into the contest with goals just 24 seconds apart. After a quiet period, Charlie Coyle and Morgan Geekie beat Quick, who finished the first frame with eight saves. However, the offense in the opening frame wasn’t over just yet, with Kreider netting his second goal of the period with a shorthanded breakaway snipe at 18:41.

The Rangers secured a 3-2 lead after 20 minutes, outshooting the visitors 11-10 and dominating special teams with two goals. Although it was a solid start, the team let up in the final minutes, giving life to a team eager to keep the score close.

“I think both coaches were probably a little perturbed and would’ve like to have seen less chances,” Kreider smirked. “Sometimes, that’s just the way the game goes. We did a good job of generating offense with all four lines and made it hard on them to generate offense.

Despite picking up a power play point earlier in the first period, Gustafsson took a hooking penalty, allowing Boston to start the second with the man advantage. Of course, they capitalized on their first attempt of the game when Pastrnak fired one between Quick’s legs, who immediately looked to the rafters because he was late to close his five-hole.

However, that was the last time the Bruins would light the lamp in the middle frame despite firing 12 shots on goal. Moreover, the Rangers, who went long periods without generating any action on the Boston end of the ice, built up a two-goal lead (again) with two unlikely contributions from Jimmy Vesey and K’Andre Miller.

On a delayed high stick infraction, the Rangers maintained possession with a handful of shot attempts before Ullmark kicked out a rebound that Vesey buried for his fourth goal of the year. Meanwhile, three minutes later, Kreider picked up another point by carrying the puck into the zone, feeding Mika Zibanejad, who dropped a pass back to a streaking Miller, who ripped a slap shot top corner on Ullmark at 19:38. At that point, the Blueshirts went into the dressing room with a 5-3 lead after 40 minutes.

Even though only two goals separated these Original Six franchises, the Rangers kept lighting the lamp, with Tyler Pitlick netting his first goal of the season just 1:26 into the final period. However, the building soon went quiet as the Bruins tried to show they were not entirely done playing on the afternoon when Coyle fired home a rebound past a scrambling Quick for his second of the day.

New York’s leading scorer, Panarin, snuffed out any chances of a Boston comeback with his 11th tally at 4:38, with an absolute beauty of a snapshot from the far boards. After that, it appeared the life had been sucked out of the visitors bench, allowing the Rangers to keep pressing and causing Ullmark to stay busy until the dying seconds.

Overall, at the final buzzer, New York became the top team in the NHL (based on percentage points) with a convincing 7-4 win over a team they could eventually have a playoff series with. Even though they currently sit atop the league standings with 31 points, the Vegas Golden Knights can surpass them later this evening with a victory over the Arizona Coyotes.

Meanwhile, the Rangers pick up their third straight victory and will seek their third four-game win streak of the year with a contest against the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night. During their next game, New York will look to continue their dominant ways, with goals in five of their last six periods and winning 57% of the faceoffs in the past two contests.

Rangers Notes

  • Quick had his worst game in a Rangers uniform, finishing the night with a .871 save percentage.
  • Chris Kreider scored a PPG and SHG in same game for the fourth time in his career
  • Jacob Trouba led all skaters with a plus-four rating.
  • Panarin, Alexis Lafreniere, Kreider, Vesey, and Branden Schneider had four shots on goal, with New York finishing with 40.
  • Panarin continues to separate himself from the pack; with two points today, he has 26 on the season, nine points ahead of Kreider.

The Rangers have a day off tomorrow and will return on Monday night when they welcome the Buffalo Sabres to Madison Square Garden.

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