NEW YORK — The Bruins ran the Rangers out of Madison Square Garden on Wednesday with a 6-1 win.
Patrice Bergeron led the offense with two goals while welcoming Brad Marchand back to his left side. Tim Schaller, dropped back to the fourth line, chased Henrik Lundqvist with a top-shelf sparkler in the second period. The free-falling Rangers dropped their fourth straight game.
Amid the carnage the Bruins inflicted on Broadway, they were still at risk of falling behind by a 2-1 score in the second period.
Anton Khudobin made sure that didn’t happen.
“First period, our goaltender was terrific,” coach Bruce Cassidy said of Khudobin’s 10-save effort. “We had some breakdowns in the slot, a little uncharacteristic of us. Give credit to the Rangers for getting there. They did it well in here last time against us. But we got through it. Got a lead going into the second. Once that happened, our group thought that from there, they’d be in good shape getting through that first period.
Tuukka Rask is scalding to the touch. The ace is 19-0-2 in his 21 decisions.
But Khudobin is no slouch when he’s going full acrobat.
The backup, playing for the first time since Jan. 30, submitted three sharp stops during one sequence, none bigger than a point-blank thievery of Rick Nash. The Ranger flurry started when Mika Zibanejad careened toward the cage and ripped off a short-distance snipe that Khudobin turned back by dropping into the splits.
The Bruins looked like they were in good shape. Torey Krug settled the rebound and started the breakout. But Krug coughed up the puck, allowing Nick Holden to send a long-distance shot on net from the point. Khudobin kicked out Holden’s shot, but Nash, who scored the opening goal in the first period, was lurking at the right circle.
Khudobin was determined not to allow Nash to score again. With a flash of his left pad, Khudobin booted out Nash’s point-blank chance to keep the score tied at 1-1. Khudobin then let teammates do the rest.
“That was a scramble,” Khudobin said. “First one, I tried to kick out. Didn’t happen. It went through my legs.
“Tried to find the puck. Turned around, but there was another shot. Deflection. Tried to kick it out, then I went, ‘Oh-oh.’ There’s another rebound. I just tried to move there and just keep it out.”
The only blemish on Khudobin’s night was Nash’s first-period off-the-rush strike, a low-blocker shot that few goalies could have punched out. Khudobin was perfect with his 20 other saves, the most crucial taking place in the first-period flurry while teammates were finding their legs.
“We were way too sloppy in our zone, giving up the slot almost every shift,” Bergeron said. “He was huge. We had to pick it up for him. He definitely kept us in the game and gave us a chance to go play offense many times. That was an amazing game by him.”
It wasn’t just Bergeron, Marchand, and the rest of the stars who led the turnaround. Danton Heinen, back on the third line following Marchand’s return, picked Brendan Smith’s pocket in the defensive zone to initiate a 3-on-1 rush. Lundqvist punched out David Backes’s first shot, but the third line kept the heat on for long enough for Riley Nash to score on the next wave. Jake DeBrusk and Ryan Spooner executed strong wall work late in the first to spring Zdeno Chara for a goal.
No goal, however, could compare to Schaller’s second-period jaw-dropper.
Schaller found himself attacking Tony DeAngelo 1-on-1 down the left flank. Schaller first thought about carrying the puck wide. But then he saw a better option: turning DeAngelo inside out.
“I was reading off the D-man,” Schaller said. “I was probably going to take it wide. Then I saw him flinch a little bit. So I had space to cut to the middle.”
Once Schaller faked DeAngelo into the Bronx, he closed on Lundqvist and fired a rocket over the ace at 7:25 to give the Bruins a 4-1 lead. That was enough for Lundqvist, who turned over the keys to Ondrej Pavelec.
“It was awesome,” Marchand said with a smile. “Everyone was very excited. It was an unbelievable goal by him. Great play and finish. It’s always fun to see a teammate score a goal like that. He works very hard. It’s great to see him get rewarded like that.”
Fellow grinder Sean Kuraly added his second goal in two nights at 6:34 of the third. Later in the third, Adam McQuaid dropped the mitts with Cody McLeod for a second time after the Ranger bruiser leveled Matt Grzelcyk with a hit along the boards.
The Bruins are playing with pace. They are a handful to defend because of how they skate, support the puck, and sprint on the attack. They’re even tougher to play when their secondary cast does things like score highlight goals, stick up for teammates, and stop shots that have no business staying out of the net.
The Bruins are rolling. They see no need to stop.
“We’re trying to win every game that’s on the schedule in front of us,” Cassidy said of approaching Tampa Bay, the division leader. “If we catch them, great. If not, if they play great, that’s the way it goes. We’ll pay attention to it. But it’s not our main focus if you ask our group.”