NEW YORK -- The power play delivered early and goalie Henrik Lundqvist dazzled often to lift the New York Rangers to a 5-2 win against the Boston Bruins at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.
Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan scored power-play goals in the first 11:39, and Lundqvist made 39 saves to give the Rangers (42-24-8) a second straight win. They defeated the Florida Panthers 4-2 here Monday.
New York pulled four points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins for second place in the Metropolitan Division. The Penguins have two games in hand; they play here Sunday.
"We're getting closer and closer to the first step of the many goals you set going into the season," Lundqvist said of qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Video: BOS@NYR: Brassard snipes top-shelf goal, extends lead
Lee Stempniak and Frank Vatrano scored for the Bruins (39-27-8), who lost their fourth in a row, all in regulation. Boston came here after failing to get a point on a three-game road trip to California.
The Bruins are third in the Atlantic Division, three points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers but three points from being out of playoff position.
The Lightning and Panthers each have a game in hand on the Bruins; Florida plays at Boston on Thursday. The Detroit Red Wings, who are fourth in the Atlantic Division and on the outside of playoff qualification, also have a game in hand on Boston.
"We definitely have to bounce back," Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said. "We have to learn from tonight and realize that it's not even close to being good enough."
Video: BOS@NYR: Yandle sets up Stepan beautifully for goal
Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask might be questionable to start against the Panthers. He was battling an illness heading into this game, started anyway, but didn't return for the second period after allowing two goals on eight shots in the first. Jonas Gustavsson made 13 saves in relief.
"He was feeling great. He said he was ready to go," Bruins coach Claude Julien said of Rask. "But at the end of the first period it turned the other way around so we decided to make the safe and the right call."
New York took a 3-0 lead on Derick Brassard's Rangers-leading 26th goal at 5:26 of the second period. He sent a high slap shot from the top of the left circle over Gustavsson's glove into the top right corner of the net.
Stempniak answered with his first goal in seven games at 9:34, but Lundqvist helped the Rangers preserve the 3-1 lead going into the third period by making four saves against Boston's power play late in the second.
Video: BOS@NYR: Zuccarello scores PPG on feed from Yandle
Lundqvist then denied Stempniak a second goal at 3:35 of the third period by reaching back with his glove to stop his shot off a rebound from crossing the goal line. The play was reviewed but the no-goal call on the ice was upheld.
"When I made it I thought for sure it was safe, that was my first reaction," Lundqvist said. "But then I looked at the replay and I didn't realize it was that close. I mean, it was so close, but that was a big sequence."
It was made bigger less than three minutes later because J.T. Miller scored his 20th goal of the season to give the Rangers a 4-1 lead. Lundqvist robbed Bergeron of a goal before Rick Nash scored into an empty net at 17:07.
"Their power play got some real good looks, [Lundqvist] made some big saves," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "Our power play was able to get some looks and finish. When you're able to do that against a real strong team, that's a real positive for the whole group as far as the confidence level."
Video: BOS@NYR: Lundqvist lunges to make goal-line save
The Rangers also benefitted from a quick and decisive call by video coach Jerry Dineen to challenge a Stempniak goal at 10:55 of the first period. Vigneault credited Dineen with seeing that Bergeron was offside on the play. The goal was overturned on a coach's challenge.
"I never saw the replay," Vigneault said. "You gotta give credit to Jerry in our video room. He was saying there was offside and there was goaltender interference, but you gotta pick one or the other. He made the call and he made the right call."
Julien agreed with the offside ruling on the coach's challenge, but he disagreed with the holding penalty on Bruins center David Krejci at 11:23 of the first period that led to Stepan's power-play goal 16 seconds later.
"That was a [bad], [expletive] call and he knows why he made that call," Julien said without elaborating. "Really disappointed."
It didn't change how he felt about the Bruins performance.
"I don't think we played well enough to win," Julien said. "We seemed out of sync. Those tape-to-tape passes were few and far between. We needed to be better. That was the disappointing part of our game tonight, a game we really needed to win."
Video: Lundqvist, Stepan lead Rangers to win over Bruins