BostonBruins.com — Last season, the New York Rangers were two wins away from making it the Stanley Cup Finals. Tonight, playing against an Original Six foe in the Boston Bruins, the Blueshirts found themselves two goals short of the 2011 Stanley Cup winners.
Boston scored a goal in each period, and outshot the Rangers 34-21 en route to an opening night 3-1 win at TD Garden.
“We just didn’t have it enough in their endzone,” said Rangers Head Coach John Tortorella. “Give them credit; they are a pretty good hockey club.
For the Rangers, the lineup consisted of mostly the same cast of characters, with a few new faces. Five-time all-star Rick Nash, who was shipped to New York in an offseason trade, registered his first point as a Ranger—assisting on the only New York goal—but felt there was much room for improvement on the ice.
“It was a tough one tonight,” Nash said. “We didn’t come out the way we wanted to—a lot of rust in the first period.
“But the good thing about hockey is we’ve got another one tomorrow night.”
Nash’s first point as a Ranger came after a great individual effort led the big winger to a near miss. Brad Richards corralled the loose puck, and fired it over the shoulder of goaltender Tuukka Rask to cut a 2-0 Boston lead in half.
Nash was constantly greeted on the ice by B’s captain and defensive stalwart Zdeno Chara. For the Rangers newest forward, it was a test for his first game in a New York sweater.
“He’s definitely one of the toughest guys to play against,” Nash said. “He covers so much of the ice. But, it is what it is. I’ve got to deal with it, and outwork him.”
For Nash, having played the entirety of his nine-year career in Columbus, before this summer’s trade, the former Olympic gold medal winner is looking to establish chemistry with new linemates. Tonight, he was mostly paired with Richards and speedy second-year player Carl Hagelin.
“I thought we had a couple of chances here and there,” Nash said of the combo of him and Richards. “Obviously, we’re not at the speed that we want to be at, but hopefully it gets better, and better tomorrow night.”
In net for the Rangers, defending Vezina trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist showed flashes of what made him a top goaltender last season. After allowing a big rebound on the first goal that allowed Milan Lucic to cash in, Lundqvist settled down. He made 31 saves on 34 shots, including a diving glove save on a Bruins’ power play in the third period to keep the deficit at one.
Just a minute later though, Johnny Boychuk was able to beat Lundqvist through traffic, extending the B’s lead back to two goals, a lead Boston would hold steady the rest of the way.
The game wasn’t without its physicality. A pair of fights in the second period—Michael Rupp squaring off with Shawn Thornton, and Stu Bickel locking horns with Gregory Campbell—only three seconds apart, showed a glimpse of the “old-time hockey” style both clubs play.
With another meeting between the two teams only four days away, the physical play will surely persist
“I mean we know what we are going to get out of Boston,” said Rangers captain Ryan Callahan. “We know that they’re a hard team to play against, in your face style and we saw that tonight.
“And I think it’s going to be even more like that Wednesday once teams get a couple games under their belts and get used to playing again.”