The Rangers hung with the red-hot Bruins until the very end.
Boston entered Wednesday night’s game at Madison Square Garden riding a three-game winning streak and tied with the Flyers for first place in the East with 18 points, but the Rangers pulled out a point by forcing overtime before Brad Marchand ultimately secured a 3-2 win for the Bruins.
Jumping out on a breakaway 36 seconds into the extra period, Marchand put one past Rangers netminder Alexandar Georgiev with a nifty head-fake.
The Rangers managed to keep their heads in the game despite losing their top scorer Artemi Panarin for nearly the entire third period. Head coach David Quinn said after the game that the star winger, who briefly returned on the power play later in the period, had “a little bit of a lower-body injury” and would be assessed soon.
It would’ve been easy for the Rangers to use losing Panarin as an excuse, especially after the Bruins’ Anders Bjork broke a 1-1 tie nine minutes into the third period. But Kevin Rooney battled it out in front of Boston’s net roughly 2 ½ minutes later and batted the puck past Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask to tie the game up once again.
Referees reviewed the goal for a possible high stick by Brendan Lemieux, but the call on the ice stood.
“I thought after they got the goal, we started doing things we needed to,” Quinn said. “We get a big goal and I thought we did a good job after that. I thought our power play was really good, when we got one late in the third and had some great chances, just couldn’t buy one.
“There was a lot of good things that we can draw from, but obviously things we’re going to have to get better at.”
The Bruins’ last — and only — loss in regulation this season came Jan. 18 against the Islanders.
Mika Zibanejad broke through for one of his most productive games so far this season, getting robbed by Rask on two separate occasions in the middle frame and registering four shots. Rask turned aside 33 of the 35 shots he faced, including 15 in the final period.
“Tuukka played really well tonight too,” Quinn said. “Made some big saves, as did [Georgiev with 29 saves], especially the second, gave us a chance.”
Entering the final 20 minutes tied 1-1 for the second time in the last four games, the Rangers were saved by a bouncing puck just over five minutes in when Jake DeBrusk’s shot from the slot went bar down and out. The shot was reviewed and the no-goal call on the ice was upheld when the review showed the shot hit, but did not cross, the goal line.
Julien Gauthier notched his first NHL goal at 13:50 of the first period, burying a pass off the net from Lemieux to put the Rangers ahead 1-0 with the only goal of the first 20 minutes. Entering Wednesday’s matchup, the Bruins had only trailed after one period three other times.
“I think [the fourth line] has been playing well, I should’ve played them more,” Quinn said of Gauthier, Rooney and Lemieux. “Actually, I looked at the minutes and was kind of pissed at myself for not playing them more. Shame on me.”