The New York Rangers won’t have to wait long to try and apply the lessons they learned Monday about the razor-thin difference between winning and losing in an NHL season consisting entirely of intra-divisional games.
The Rangers will look to make up ground in the East Division on Wednesday night against the visiting Boston Bruins in the opener of a two-game series at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers suffered their first regulation loss of a season-long, eight-game homestand Monday night when they allowed two third-period goals in a 2-0 loss to the New York Islanders. The Bruins haven’t played since Friday, when they ran their winning streak to three games by edging the host Philadelphia Flyers 2-1.
The loss was disheartening for the Rangers, who outshot the Islanders 25-24 before allowing the game’s only goals on consecutive shots by Casey Cizikas, who scored with 8:45 left, and Matt Martin, who added an insurance goal 2:05 later.
“We’ve got to play a full 60; doesn’t matter who we’re playing in our division,” Rangers left winger Chris Kreider said. “There’s a lot of good teams that stick to their structure and know how to win hockey games.”
The Rangers also had a pair of empty power plays in the first two periods and two prime chances to break the tie within the first four minutes of the third period, when Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov stopped Artemi Panarin on a breakaway and turned back a two-on-one opportunity by Mika Zibanejad.
“We’ve got to find a way to generate more offense,” Kreider said.
The Rangers enter Wednesday 1-3-2 in one-goal games — the five one-goal losses were tied for the most in the NHL before Tuesday’s action.
The Bruins, meanwhile, have thrived in close games and in the third period in particular. Boston entered Tuesday with eight wins, tied for the most in the Eastern Conference, including five victories in one-goal games, tied for the most in the NHL.
The win over the Flyers represented the third straight third-period comeback for the Bruins, who fell behind 27 seconds into the third before Brad Marchand and Sean Kuraly scored the tying and winning goals, respectively, in a 27-second span shortly beyond the midway point.
The Bruins’ most recent multi-goal victory was a 5-3 win over the Washington Capitals on Feb. 1, during which Boston scored five unanswered goals in the final 28 minutes, including an empty-netter by Marchand with 1:26 left. And two days before that, Boston mounted a comeback from a three-goal deficit in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Capitals.
“You can’t trail every game and expect to come back,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said following Friday’s win. “But it’s how you end up trailing, I think, that’s important. Tonight we didn’t have our best, but we hung around, found a way to stay in the game.”
–Field Level Media