When the Bruins and Rangers meet, you can count on a few things: a close game (21 of the last 26 were decided by one goal), not many goals, hard hits and big saves by two of the NHL’s best goaltenders - Tuukka Rask (17 saves) and Henrik Lundqvist (25 saves). On Friday afternoon at TD Garden, the Bruins (17-7-2) rallied for a 3-2 win against the Rangers (13-13-0). New York had been 95-0-6 in its last 101 games when they led entering the third period. The previous loss in that case was Feb. 4, 2010.
“We did a great job of managing the puck,” noted Bruins head coach Claude Julien. He lauded his team for “playing with more emotion rather than getting too upset after Wednesday’s loss. We were the better team and I thought it was a good solid game all around.”
The home team seemed to be sparked by two things: 1. The humbling 6-1 defeat they absorbed in Detroit and 2) Captain Zdeno Chara dropped the gloves for the first time this season (against BC product Brian Boyle) in the middle of a Gordie Howe hat trick. As Chara said, “We all felt really bad about that game but we bounced back and regrouped. The situation with Boyle just happened, he’s a strong customer.”
It was an exciting contest from the start as Brad Marchand gave Boston an early 1-0 lead halfway through the first period. Less than three minutes later, New York surged ahead with a pretty wraparound goal from Rick Nash and a shot from the point by Ryan McDonagh. The Bruins outshot the Rangers in each period but Boston started to take control in the second with Chara’s beatdown of Boyle.
It didn’t take long for Boston to equalize in the third period as Patrice Bergeron was the recipient of hockey’s equivalent of an own goal. His shot was stopped by Lundqvist but it bounced in off a Rangers defenseman. The Bruins had gone to overtime in their last three home games but that didn’t happen on Black Friday as Chara continued his offensive tear. He only had seven goals in 48 games last season but he is only one behind that pace with a mere 56 games left in the regular season.
Saturday, (7 p.m., NESN) the B's wrap up a very busy couple weeks as they host Columbus (9-13-3).
What they'll be saying: After missing the past four games with a lower-body injury, the Bruins were happy to welcome back Dennis Seidenberg. He was with Dougie Hamilton on the second defensive pairing but ended up skating a team-high 24:43 because of Chara’s fighting major. It was also Adam McQuaid’s second game back since he missed eight games and he was shown no ill-effects of his mysterious injury. Matt Bartkowski was a healthy scratch and Jordan Caron returned to the press box after his surprise inclusion in the lineup on Wednesday. Boston could have scored many more goals, there wasn’t much they could do about Chara and Torey Krug both hitting the post. The Bruins beat the Rangers by one goal (2-1) on November 19 in New York, is there any chance their last meeting-March 2 at MSG-also doesn’t end with a one-goal difference? Boston’s penalty kill had its best game in a while, they were 5-for-5 and they stepped up late in the third when the Bruins were called for too many men on the ice (why does that always seem to happen to them?). I can basically guarantee that Chad Johnson (3-1-0, 2.22 GAA) will make his first start in a week vs. Blue Jackets. Boston beat Columbus 3-2 on November 14 at the Garden on Milan Lucic’s overtime winner.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate