June 22, 2024

NEW YORK — The New York Rangers outhustled the Boston Bruins, put seven goals behind last season’s top goaltender and leapfrogged their rival to earn the NHL’s best record with a 7-4 win on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

Their reaction? Not a big deal.

“You’ve got 82 tests throughout the year,” said goaltender Jonathan Quick, who made 27 saves in the win. “Obviously, with how great of a team they’ve been over the last few years, it’s a game you want to give your best effort. And we got the two points, right?”

Said forward Chris Kreider, who scored twice in the victory: “Two points. Against a very good team. I don’t give big-picture views. We’re happy with the game today. We came away with two points. Enjoy the day tomorrow and get back at it.”

This was the highly anticipated first meeting between these two Original Six franchises this season. Boston entered Madison Square Garden with the best record in the NHL at 14-2-3. The Rangers had emerged as an early-season powerhouse in the East. With the win over the Bruins, New York improved to a 15-3-1 record and an .816 points percentage, best in the league. The Vegas Golden Knights, leaders of the Western Conference, had a chance to top them both in points later Saturday.

“We knew where they were [in the standings],” defenseman K’Andre Miller said, coming as close as any Ranger would to calling it a statement win. “It was kind of in the back of our heads coming into this game. We’ve had a lot of gutsy wins. A lot of 60-minute hard-fought battles. Doing that against a top three team in the league is always nice, and it shows that we’re a pretty good team that’s done some things to get to this point.”

The Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Nick Bonino and Kreider, who scored on the power play. Boston called a timeout, regrouped and scored two goals in 24 seconds to tie the game.

Kreider scored a shorthanded goal, his 13th tally of the season, to make it 3-2 to end the first period. But Boston countered quickly in the third period on a power-play goal from David Pastrnak, his 13th. Goals by Jimmy Vesey and Miller near the end of the second period broke the tie and sent the Rangers on their way to the decisive victory.

“Once it went to 3-3, that push there at the end of the period to get a couple of goals showed a lot of resiliency,” Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said.

Both teams were playing their second straight afternoon game, but the Rangers had more jump throughout.

“It’s unacceptable,” center Charlie Coyle said. “That team played a back-to-back and we looked like we did way more than they did. And that’s not fair to our goalie. That’s not the way we do things. There’s no reason for that. It shouldn’t happen.”

Goalie Linus Ullmark, who won the Vezina Trophy last season as the NHL’s top goaltender, gave up seven goals on 40 shots.

“We’re not going to control the outcome of the game every night,” Boston captain Brad Marchand said. “What we can control is our compete level, and that wasn’t good enough. They came ready to play and we played slow from the get-go. You’ve figure with a team like New York, both of us being high in the standings, we’d be a little more prepared to play.”

The Bruins dropped their second straight game, having lost Friday to the Detroit Red Wings.

The Rangers won their third straight and have taken seven of eight.

“We all knew that we had a really good team. We can build off this,” Miller said. “I still don’t think we’ve played our best hockey yet, which is scary and fun to say at the same time.”

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