High above the ice, on the ninth floor of TD Garden, Peter Chiarelli was making news. The general manager announced that David Pastrnak, the scintillating 18-year-old rookie, would be staying with the Bruins, despite burning a year off his entry-level deal.
But Chiarelli wasn’t alone. The Bruins, too, were making waves, earning their fifth straight win with a 3-0 blanking of the hottest team in the NHL. The Rangers had arrived on Thursday with wins in 13 of their last 15 games. They didn’t get another.
That was due in large part to Tuukka Rask, who made 30 saves for his second shutout of the season. The goaltender’s game has soared of late, going 7-0-3 in his last 10 starts. That included turning away breakaways by Chris Kreider and Lee Stempniak, as the Rangers used their speed to pressure Rask and the Bruins.
“I think we were outworked by their goalie,’’ said Rick Nash, who is tied for the NHL lead with 26 goals.
“He was really good for us tonight,” coach Claude Julien said of Rask. “This team has a lot of speed, the Rangers, and we acknowledged that before the game. They certainly displayed it at times, and when there was the odd breakdown and they had opportunities to score, Tuukka was up to the task there and made some big saves for us. No doubt in my mind, he was our best player tonight.”
The Bruins scored once in each period to back up their goalie, getting goals from Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and Loui Eriksson. Bergeron started the scoring at 4:00 of the first period, putting a rebound of a Dougie Hamilton shot behind Cam Talbot. Bergeron called getting off to a good start important, even as Rask turned away some big shots.
“Having the confidence that we’ve built from the last four games definitely helped us, realizing that if we do stay and respect the system and go back to that, we’ll be fine,” Bergeron said. “We had to regroup on those few chances, but like I said, Tuukka definitely came up big for us, and getting the lead gives you also that cushion, the confidence to keep pushing and keep staying on your toes.”
The Bruins added to that on a pretty pass from Torey Krug to Krejci at 2:49 of the second. At the point, Krug sent the puck cross-ice to Krejci for the backdoor score, of which Krug said, “I don’t even know how I had so much time up there, but that’s how you score goals.”
The insurance came on a rebound goal by Eriksson at 9:49 of the third, as he showed impressive patience in waiting until the right moment to take the shot.
That was more than enough to support Rask.
It helped, too, that the Bruins’ defense is back to where it needs to be. Over their five-game winning streak, the Bruins have allowed just six goals.
“We’re getting back to doing the things that make us the Boston Bruins, and that’s playing with that edge and making sure that we’re taking away time and space when we have those layers defensively,” Krug said. “I think our defensive outings have been a lot better as of late, and that’s important for our team.”
Not only was the win the fifth straight for the Bruins, but it was the second straight and third against top competition in their last five.
Boston has beaten Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, and now New York, proving that it’s not just racking up points against the bottom dwellers.
“We’ve just showed that when we’re playing well and with the group that we have here, I think we’re as good as any team in the league,” Julien said. “That’s never been a doubt. I think the biggest thing, the biggest challenge, was to find our game. It took us a while and now we’re starting to find it, so now it’s important for us to keep it and understand the importance of this second half.
“It hasn’t been an easy first half, so it’s not going to be an easy second half, either. We’ve got a lot of ground to make up for and I think playing like we did tonight certainly helps.”