BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins needed everything they could get from captain Zdeno Chara to defeat the New York Rangers on Friday. The gargantuan defenseman contributed in all facets with a Gordie Howe Hat Trick.
Chara scored the game-winning goal at 11:05 of the third period after he'd already assisted on a goal and dominated a fight with Rangers center Brian Boyle in a 3-2 win at TD Garden.
Tuukka Rask stopped 17 of 19 shots for the Bruins, who are 8-0-2 in their past 10 home games. It's the first time they’ve acquired at least one standings point in 10 straight home games since the 2008-09 season.
Coming off their worst loss of the season, 6-1 on the road against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday, the Bruins (17-7-2) rallied from one goal down in the third period. Against the Red Wings, the Bruins allowed a season-high in goals and landed a season-low (17) in shots.
"Yeah, we all felt really bad about that game," Chara said. "It was just one of those nights where we just didn't execute anything and nothing was really happening for us. Detroit played really well, and yeah, they deserved to win that game, but those kind of games do happen and it's just the way you have to bounce back and regroup from nights like that. I thought today we did a pretty good job."
The Bruins ended the Rangers' streak of 101 games with at least one point when holding a lead heading into the third period dating to 2010 (95-0-6). The previous time the Rangers lost in regulation after leading through two periods was Feb. 2, 2010, 6-5 to the Washington Capitals.
Henrik Lundqvist stopped 25 of 28 shots for the Rangers (13-13-0), who finished 3-2-0 record on their five-game road trip.
"Yeah, I think this one hurts for sure. We worked hard, we really battled in our own zone, we just spent a lot of the game there, too much of the game there," Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "We couldn't get any flow going with our lines and couldn't pin them in their own zone as much as they did to us."
The Bruins carried over their solid play from the second period into the third and tied the game at 2-2 with a fortuitous bounce. After Brad Marchand gained the New York zone with speed and stopped at the goal line, he set up a Patrice Bergeron one-timer from the right hash mark. The shot hit Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi, who was battling with Loui Eriksson in front, and eluded Lundqvist at 1:35. Bergeron snapped an eight-game goal drought.
Chara gave the Bruins a 3-2 lead at 11:05. After yeoman's work by linemates David Krejci, Jarome Iginla and Milan Lucic prevented the Rangers from crossing the red line, Boston got the puck deep in the New York end. Krejci passed the puck to Chara in the high slot for a slap shot that beat Lundqvist to the glove side.
"Bad read," Lundqvist said. "For some reason, I was reading a high shot and then just made a bad move. Instead of playing it the way I should, I read his stick, and I thought it was going high. I don't know if he fell down or kind of missed it, but it definitely fooled me a little bit. Tough one."
Marchand's assist on the tying goal was his second point, after his first goal in seven games put the Bruins on the scoreboard first at 11:42 of the first period. Chara faked a shot from the left wall and instead passed cross ice to Marchand waiting at the bottom of the right circle for a one-timer that beat Lundqvist up high.
It didn't take long for the Rangers to even the score 1-1. Brad Richards retrieved a rebound in the corner and cycled it to Rick Nash coming from behind the Boston net. Nash carried the puck to the slot while warding off Bergeron's check and then beat Rask with a low shot to the blocker side at 13:04.
The Rangers took a 2-1 lead 82 seconds later on a wrist shot by McDonagh, who stepped up to the top of the right circle and beat Rask through traffic high to the blocker side at 14:26.
The Rangers went on four power plays in the opening 20 minutes, including one that extended into the second period. Bruins coach Claude Julien said he wasn't concerned with their first period and was proud of his players' 60-minute effort.
"I think our whole team played with more emotion, obviously when you look at the last game we played and you look at this game," Julien said. "So I think it's the personality of our team. You get beat the way you did last game, you want to come back, and certainly [redeem] yourselves.
"I thought today we just played a good solid game all around. Lots of physical play, lots of emotion and scoring chances. We had lots of them. We hit some posts and everything else. But I think today I can honestly say I felt like it was a good game, but we were the better team. And that's what I wanted our team to be."
In the second period, the Rangers didn't land a shot on Rask until 12:26. Lundqvist kept New York in the lead with a couple of big saves on Lucic's chances in tight. Chara tried to fire up the Bruins with a fight against Boyle, but the emotion didn't translate into a goal before the second intermission.
"We got exactly what we deserved," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "We had too many guys with their B game on the ice against a Stanley Cup finalist, a team that obviously was not happy with their performance [from Wednesday]. We came in here, I thought, with a lot on the line and we should have been very motivated. We could have made this a real solid road trip, instead of making it an OK road trip."
The Bruins and Rangers will complete their three-game season series March 2 at Madison Square Garden.
Boston stays home to face the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday. New York will host the Vancouver Canucks.
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