Henrik Lundqvist reached the 20-win mark for the fifth consecutive season to start his NHL career. He stopped a first-period penalty shot to protect an early lead. About the only thing the New York Rangers goaltender didn't do Saturday afternoon was shut out the Boston Bruins -- and he came pretty close on that, too.
Lundqvist stopped 29 shots and Brandon Dubinsky finished with a goal and two assists as the Rangers continued their ascension in the Eastern Conference standings with a 3-1 win over the Bruins at TD Garden.
Erik Christensen added a goal and an assist and Michael Del Zotto also scored as the Rangers, who are 8-1-3 in their last 12 games and climbed to within a point of the Bruins for fifth place in the East.
"It's a big difference, two or three goals," Lundqvist said. "A lot of the games we lost, it was 2-1 or 3-2 but lately we've been able to squeeze one in, an extra one up to three goals, and the difference there is big for us."
Dennis Wideman scored with 3:44 remaining for Boston, which lost its second straight and will be without center Marc Savard for 3-4 weeks after he suffered a Grade 2 partial MCL tear in his right knee during Thursday's game against Chicago.
"If (the injuries) are affecting psyches, we have to find a way to get around it quickly," said Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, who made 31 saves.
Lundqvist, whose streak of 17 straight starts came to an end Thursday in Atlanta, as rookie Chad Johnson lost 2-1 in a shootout to the Thrashers, was in top form early. He stopped 11 shots in the first and, after a quiet second, 15 more in the third. Meanwhile, his teammates were providing him with some offensive support.
Del Zotto started the scoring at 7:56 of the first period with the fifth goal of his rookie season and his first in 22 games. Taking a feed from Dubinsky, Del Zotto skated past Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara before putting a shot past Thomas.
"Dubie did a good job bringing the defenseman down and Chara came out, he was a bit flat-footed," Del Zotto said. "I walked in and didn't know how much room I had, and I knew that Thomas is pretty active so I just slid it five-hole on him."
Lundqvist kept Boston off the board when he denied Marco Sturm on a penalty shot with 5:10 left. During a New York power play, Sturm took off on a shorthanded breakaway and was tripped up by Ales Kotalik.
"First I was upset that we gave up a penalty shot on a power play, but then I tried to refocus and get ready for it," Lundqvist said.
"That was a game-changer right there," Dubinsky said. "It always changes the dynamic of the game."
The Bruins were outshot 21-3 in the second period, going more than 10 minutes before getting their first shot. By that point the Rangers had extended their lead to 2-0 on Dubinsky's eighth goal of the season. Christensen sent the puck into a scrum in front and Dubinsky was able to find it and slide it past Thomas at the 10:16 mark.
It took all of 37 seconds for Christensen to make it 3-0 in the third. This time it was Dubinsky sending the puck in front, where Marian Gaborik couldn't control it, but Christensen cleaned up for his third of the season.
"Whenever you play Boston you know you're going to be in for a grind," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "The way they play, the way they jam the neutral zone, you're going to play along the boards. … The key is getting through the neutral zone on them. They like to counter off of turnovers, and I thought we did a pretty good job of limiting our turnovers and getting through and then grinding through."
Wideman finally ended Lundqvist's shutout bid late in the third, blasting a puck from the blue line after a faceoff win by David Krejci, but the Bruins got nothing more, even after pulling Thomas in the final minutes.
Material from wire services and team broadcast media was used in this report.
Michael Del Zotto
1 - 0 NYR
2 - 0 NYR
3 - 0 NYR
3 - 1 NYR
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