NEW YORK — The Bruins and Rangers staged an alumni game at Madison Square Garden before Sunday’s contest. It featured Ray Bourque and Rick Middleton against Brian Leetch and Mike Richter, the latter playing forward for the Blueshirt Alumni.
At some point during the NHL game that followed, Rangers coach David Quinn might have thought about texting a few of the old boys to see if they had enough gas to suit up again.
The Bruins of today hammered the Rangers on Broadway, scoring four times in the second period to take a 7-4 victory.
Looking more and more like one of the league’s best teams, Boston (8-1-2) won its third in a row after allowing a fluky goal midway through the first period and storming back in the second.
New York (3-5-1), feeling fine after pounding the league-leading Sabres on Thursday, got a Bruins team traveling on a back-to-back. The visitors showed no wear, chasing netminder Henrik Lundqvist after four goals on 21 shots in the second period, in a frame that saw the calm veteran get heated over what he thought was a missed goaltender interference call.
The Bruins got their usual eye-popping production from the top line. David Pastrnak snapped his two-week, five-game goal streak, but recorded five assists for the first time in his career. Brad Marchand (2-3—5) also had a 5-point night. Patrice Bergeron registered the fifth hat trick of his 16-year career. It was a 13-point night for the group, and the third time in the last 30 years a pair of Bruins teammates had 5-point games. The last: Joe Thornton and Glen Murray in 2001.
Coach Bruce Cassidy doesn’t expect his top line to smack around its matchup every night, but more often than not, they are doing just that.
“Some nights defenders are equal to the task as well,” Cassidy said, but his trio is “always ready to play. Tonight they got rewarded a little more than usual.”
The Bruins, who face the Sharks on Tuesday, also got goals from Charlie Coyle and Zdeno Chara, the latter of whom beat backup Alexandar Giorgiev on the first shot of the third.
“You don’t like the goose egg if you’re a forward,” Cassidy said of Coyle, who scored his first of the year. “He just shows up and plays. Hopefully this will get him going offensively.”
The Rangers, who made top-line winger Jesper Fast a late scratch for personal reasons, also lost No. 1 center and leading scorer Mika Zibanejad with an upper body injury following a Bergeron reverse hit in the final minutes of the first period. Zibanejad appeared to be caught by surprise by the hit, bending backward on the shoulder-to-chest pop. Bergeron said Zibanejad told him he was OK, and expressed his concern.
The Bruins haven’t trailed often this season. They played from behind at any point in just four of their first 10 games. Despite controlling the first 10 minutes Saturday, allowing the Rangers zero shots, they were down, 1-0, at 10:19.
Tough guy Micheal Haley, inserted into the lineup after Fast was ruled out, scored his first as a Ranger by jamming home the rebound of a Brendan Smith shot. Jaroslav Halak (four goals on 26 shots) couldn’t corral it, and Haley was quicker to the puck than Torey Krug, poking it over Halak’s outstretched glove before Krug could clear it.
“[Halak] didn’t see any pucks this morning,” said Cassidy, who canceled the morning skate to rest his group. “He’d like to have it back.”
That was the Rangers’ first shot. It took them another 25 minutes, until the 35:36 mark of the game, to achieve their 10th. The Bruins were dominant.
“We weren’t concerned. At all,” said Marchand, calling Haley’s goal “a little lucky.”
The Bruins retook the lead in the first 1:08 of the second, Bergeron scoring 11 seconds in on a play that had Lundqvist irate. Defenseman Libor Hajek slide-tackled David Pastrnak, who went flying into the netminder. Bergeron poked the puck through for his third of the season.
The Bruins, after losing goals to video review challenges against Vegas, Colorado, and Toronto, had one upheld in New York.
Fifty-three seconds later, Marchand made it 2-0 with a stickhandling show in front. He got Lundqvist swimming and defenseman Tony DeAngelo fishing, going forehand-backhand-forehand-backhand and tucking it home.
The Rangers watched Charlie McAvoy wheel around the net and set up Coyle for a 3-1 snipe, his first of the year. The Blueshirts had a similarly nice look at Coyle circling the net for a Marchand goal.
The Bruins were caught standing around on Pavel Buchnevich’s goal on the doorstep at 8:15 of the third, but Bergeron scored from the slot at 11:39 to keep the game a blowout.
The Rangers found a bit of pride in the final two minutes, pumping home a pair of man-advantage goals by Chris Kreider (power play) and Brady Skjei (6 on 5). But Bergeron shot into an empty net with 45 seconds left.
“We’re confident each night,” Marchand said. “We’re just rolling over to the next game.”