NEW YORK — The Bruins wrapped up their “We Love New York” tour Thursday night here on Broadway with an impressive 3-1 win over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, their second triumph in the General Big Apple Area after dumping the Islanders (4-1) some 24 hours earlier in Elmont, N.Y.
Pavel Zacha, Patrice Bergeron, and Connor Clifton provided the goals and Jeremy Swayman, fresh off his 6-0 whitewash of the Flyers Monday afternoon, turned back 31 shots for his 11th win of the season.
The win, their fourth in a row, also left the Bruins with a dazzling 12-1-1 mark in their seven back-to-back matchups this season.
“Incredible . . . I think we’ve got a special group, I think it’s pretty obvious,” said Clifton, part of a revitalized backline corps that finally found its scoring shoes. “We’ve known it from Game 1, and every night we are getting contributions from everyone in the lineup — so it’s been great.”
Zacha scored in the first period, Bergeron in the second, Clifton in the third, while the Rangers had no answer for solving Swayman until Ben Harpur’s strike with 4:23 to go.
The only Spoked-B blemish on the night: losing Brandon Carlo early in the second period, the big blueliner hobbling off the ice after his right foot was belted by a Ranger slap shot. He did not return.
Coach Jim Montgomery, asked if he expects Carlo to miss some playing time, said he’ll first have to hear what doctors in Boston have to say.
“We’re going to be careful, right?” he said. “We’ve got a real good extra defenseman in [Jakub] Zboril, and if [Carlo] is not ready to go Sunday, we have the luxury of getting Zboril into games.”
Swayman’s best stop came at 6:52 of the second, snuffing out an Artemi Panarin breakaway to keep the Boston lead at 2-0. Panarin blew by Charlie McAvoy for a breakaway and was denied on his doorstep attempt to shovel the puck through Swayman’s five hole.
The Bruins improved to 36-5-4 for the season, adding another 2 points (now 76) to their Top-of-the-Original 32 total.
Bergeron’s goal, at 4:42 of the second period, delivered the 2-0 lead, the captain firing off a mid-slot forehander off Marchand’s feed from the left wing.
The night before, Bergeron was felled in the third period when Marchand, working the right wall, sent a pass to the high slot that met with a David Pastrnak one-timer. The shot deflected iand ricocheted directly into the captain’s face.
After the win here, Bergeron acknowledged he initially thought he suffered a serious injury. The puck, he noted, struck him at the right side of the nose and the lower portion of the cheekbone.
“I felt fine during the game and got through it,” he said following the win over the Rangers. “It was more about making sure everything was fine [Thursday morning].”
Carlo, the No. 2 right shot defenseman, was in obvious pain as he hobbled off the ice, helped by a member of the training staff, the game clock showing 2:14. He was hit in the right foot by a Ranger slap shot off the left wing — a shot that would have gone wide of the net. He exited after only nine shifts and 8:15 in ice time.
Montgomery improvised with his five defensemen left on hand. For the most part, Clifton moved into Carlo’s spot on the second pairing with Hampus Lindholm. Derek Forbort, a valued left stick on the No. 3 pairing, worked with McAvoy and sometimes Matt Grzelcyk.
Zboril, who has played only 14 games all season, has been patiently waiting his chance. He has played in only two games since Nov. 13.
Zacha’s goal was the lone strike in the first period, but the Bruins could have had so much more. Back-to-back penalties to Chris Kreider, ex- of BC, and Adam Fox, ex- of Harvard, set up the Bruins with a five-on-three advantage for 1:41 late in the period.
The Bruins turned the two-man chance into nothing, though they controlled the offensive zone for the most part. They just couldn’t land quality chances on top Ranger backstop Igor Shesterkin.
Zacha’s goal came on just the second Bruins shift of the night, tipping in a long-range shot that David Krejci (six assists in the past three games) squeezed off high along the right wing wall. Turning as he caught up to the puck on the wall, Krejci fired off a shot meant just to keep play toward the net. Zacha, parked on the inside edge of the right wing circle, perfectly angled his stick and sent the puck by Shesterkin for his eighth goal of the season.
Zacha, who last month had gone 17 games without a goal, picked up his third goal over the last three games.
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.