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Bruins bid to get back on track vs. Rangers

Sportsnaut
Feb 15, 2022; New York, New York, USA;  New York Rangers right wing Ryan Reaves (75) checks Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo (25) during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Bruins will look to avoid a season series sweep when they host the New York Rangers on Saturday afternoon.

Boston (47-25-5, 99 points) enters the third and final regular-season meeting with its Original Six rivals having lost four of six following Thursday’s 4-0 setback in Pittsburgh.

The Bruins were shut out for the first time in franchise history when taking at least 50 shots on goal. New Hampshire native Casey DeSmith made a career-high 52 stops en route to his third shutout of the season for Pittsburgh.

Jeremy Swayman made 28 saves before falling for just the seventh time in his last 21 decisions (14-6-1). But, Jason Zucker’s goal felt like a backbreaker after the Bruins had registered the first 10 shots of the second period.

“I think when we needed a timely save tonight, we didn’t get it,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Obviously, we didn’t finish any plays either. … That’s the save you need in this type of game and we didn’t get it. From there I thought we pushed a little bit, but that’s a game-changing moment. Give their guy credit. He made a lot of good stops.”

Brad Marchand had a game-high eight shots on goal for Boston.

The Bruins had previously won back-to-back games. They defeated the Penguins, 2-1, last Saturday before leaving St. Louis with a 3-2 triumph on Tuesday, thanks to defenseman Charlie McAvoy’s overtime goal.

“We’ve got to finish better,” Cassidy said. “We’ve been struggling to score the last little bit. We got away with it the last few games because we played well defensively and got the saves. (Thursday), we didn’t.”

Though Thursday marked its first time being shut out since Feb. 10 against Carolina, Boston hasn’t scored more than three goals in any of its last nine games. That coincides with an 0-for-29 drought on the power play.

“I have the puck a lot, obviously, and just the way teams are setting up, so we were working on finding where things were open and how to attack from there,” Marchand said.

The Rangers (51-21-6, 108 points) enter their second visit to Boston on the strength of a four-game winning streak.

The first three wins came in shutout fashion before that streak ended during Thursday’s 6-3 victory at the New York Islanders. That win officially gave the Rangers home-ice advantage to start the playoffs.

“I’m happy with the way we played the last number of games because there are some games we’ve played teams that were out of the playoffs and we still kept focusing on our game and playing the right way,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “I like winning, but I’m more happy with the way we’re playing, definitely.”

Andrew Copp, who was acquired from Winnipeg last month, scored a first-period natural hat trick before exiting late in the third with a lower-body injury.

Artemi Panarin logged his 20th multi-assist game this season and extended his point streak to four games after setting up four goals. Former Harvard defenseman Adam Fox dished out three in his 200th NHL game.

Chris Kreider scored his 51st goal and league-leading 26th on the power play.

–Field Level Media