The Rangers did not consider this battle with the Bruins a resounding victory.
Indeed, the Rangers’ entire body of work thus far stands as a statement in itself, one that was only reaffirmed by this 7-4 victory over a heavyweight Boston team on Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden, which propelled the club to first place in the ranking. the NHL in points percentage.
Forget the big bad Bruins.
These are the Big Bad Blueshirts.
Perched on an 11-point lead in the Metropolitan Division, which represents a larger gap than between the second-place Capitals and the last-place Blue Jackets, the Rangers have put the NHL on notice.
“I think our guys go into games expecting to win,” said head coach Peter Laviolette after his team improved to 15-3-1 this season. “I expect to play a certain way. If we do this, we can see the results.
For all the arguments that can and have been made about the difficulty – or lack thereof – of the Rangers’ 18-game season schedule, there is no doubt about what unfolded in Game No. #19 against a defensively solid Boston team.
With a season-high seven goals ahead of Boston goaltender Linus Ullmark, whose .932 save percentage heading into Saturday’s game was matched only by the man on the other side of the ice, Jonathan Quick, the Rangers have proven how real they are this season.
If it was a victory to be measured, it is now Rangers who will take the measure.
“I still don’t think we’ve played our best hockey yet, which is kind of scary and fun to say,” said K’Andre Miller, whose one-timer with 23.7 seconds left in the second period gave the Rangers a crucial two-goal lead heading into the final quarter. “I think understanding what we did to get all this success and maintaining it is the most important thing.”
Thirteen different Rangers scored a point in this match between two teams facing each other in the second morning of a row.
In goal, Quick remains undefeated in regulation after making 27 saves to improve his record to 6-0-1 this season.
And Chris Kreider and his game-high three-point performance were just as important as the two goals the Rangers received from their fourth line of Jimmy Vesey, Barclay Goodrow and Tyler Pitlick.
“Lavi said he had a lot of confidence in us and he told us before the game that we were going to play a lot against their front line,” said Jimmy Vesey, who gave the Rangers a 4-3 lead with the additional attacker during the match. a delayed penalty in the middle frame. “I think we were up for the challenge.”
The first half was an early indication of how big this game was going to be, after a total of five goals were scored and both teams used their only timeout to try to slow the other down in the first 20 minutes.
In addition to Nick Bonino’s first goal as a Ranger, Kreider scored on the power play and while the Rangers were shorthanded to take a 3-2 lead into the first intermission.
The Bruins played their way and never really let the Rangers get comfortable, regardless of the score. David Pastrnak five-putted Quick at the very end of Boston’s power play to tie the game for a second time just 26 seconds into the second period.
Vesey’s goal and Tyler Pitlick’s first goal as a Ranger, however, sandwiched Miller’s score late in the second period to give the Rangers a formidable 6-3 lead less than a minute and a half later the start of the last third.
With Charlie Coyle scoring his second goal of the game less than a minute after Pitlick’s goal, Artemi Panarin ended a three-game goalless streak – which is a long time considering how this game played out. season for the Russian winger – to put Rangers away. three.
“I think that’s kind of what we expect from the way we play,” Rangers captain Jacob Trouba said. “We scored a lot of goals today. It’s just, “Hey, come to the rink and do your job.” There’s not much else to say, whether it’s a statement or not.
“It’s just us coming to the rink and playing the game we’re supposed to play.”