For the Boston Bruins, Saturday’s home matchup against the New York Rangers is about continuing to tune up for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
For the Rangers, the finish line can’t come soon enough.
New York (26-23-6, 58 points), which is eliminated from playoff contention, will play its final game of the season Saturday after an emotionally draining week. The Rangers showed little energy in a 4-0 loss to the Bruins on Thursday, a defeat that was 24 hours removed from a fight-filled matchup against the Capitals in response to the actions of Washington forward Tom Wilson during a dustup Monday.
Despite injuring star forward Artemi Panarin through his antics, Wilson was not suspended by the league, prompting a strongly worded response from the Rangers that earned the team a $250,000 fine. Separately, New York dismissed team president John Davidson and general manager Jeff Gorton on Wednesday — another off-the-ice storyline that might have contributed to the team’s listless play Thursday.
With all its injured players and forward Pavel Buchnevich suspended for one game for high-sticking Washington’s Anthony Mantha, New York registered just seven shots on net over the first two periods and 15 total in the shutout. The loss was the team’s fifth straight and its third time being held scoreless during that span.
“We didn’t lay down. I know the shots were what they were and it looked ugly at times, but these guys competed,” Rangers coach David Quinn maintained. “There’s a lot of good here right now. It’s just unfortunate that we’re in this position.”
Boston (32-14-7, 71 points) took advantage to extend its points streak to six games (5-0-1). The Bruins have games against the New York Islanders on Monday and Washington Capitals on Tuesday to end their regular season.
“We’re trying to build our game towards the playoffs,” said Boston’s Patrice Bergeron, who scored in the win to extend his goal streak to four games. “… Tonight was about us making sure that we’re playing the way we want to play and everyone contributing. And I thought we did that.”
Charlie McAvoy, Jake DeBrusk and Brandon Carlo also scored for the Bruins, and Brad Marchand and David Krejci each had two assists. Rookie Jeremy Swayman picked up his second shutout in nine starts to improve to 7-2-0 with a 1.44 goals-against average.
“He’s having a blast, and he’s playing well,” McAvoy said of Swayman. “Seeing his attitude, the way he does it and how he carries himself — he loves to have fun at the rink. It’s awesome. It’s contagious. For him to come in and play the way that he has, it’s a testament to where he is in his career, one year removed from college.”
Boston played without forward Charlie Coyle, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Coyle has six goals and 10 assists in 51 games this season.
The Bruins are 5-2-0 against the Rangers this season. Three of the victories have been shutouts.