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Rask, Bruins shut out Rangers for fifth win in row

by Connor Mellas /

BOSTON -- The plan was set: Drive the net, freeze the goalie, get to the backhand, and shoot far post. New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider has been scoring on breakaways that way for years, but when he had his chance Thursday, the plan failed.

Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask did not freeze.

Feeding off that save and another first-period breakaway, Rask stopped 30 shots to give the Boston Bruins a 3-0 victory against the Rangers at TD Garden.

"You get a couple tough chances early on and you know it kind of gets you in the game," Rask said.

Boston (24-15-6) won its fifth game in a row and passed New York in the Eastern Conference standings. The Rangers (24-13-4) were shut out for the second game in a row.

"Our defense as a group usually moves the puck better than they did tonight," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "We had a couple looks, goaltender made some saves, and at the end of the day, you can't win without scoring."

Rask won two days after allowing three goals on 19 shots in a 4-3 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Patrice Bergeron scored at 4:00 of the first period, capitalizing on a rebound to beat Rangers goalie Cam Talbot. Dougie Hamilton had the assist, breaking a four-game pointless streak.

David Krejci gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead 2:49 into the second period. Torey Krug whipped a pass across the front of the crease from just beyond the dot, and Krejci smashed it past Talbot, extending his point streak to five games.

Loui Eriksson scored his 10th goal of the season at 9:49 of the third period. Batting down the puck at the edge of the crease, Eriksson settled it and calmly lifted it over Talbot's shoulder. Krug, who has a five-game point streak, and Kevan Miller assisted.

"They're a good team, they're going to generate some of those scoring chances," Talbot said. "Our best game right now is just to try to limit those chances, and they've got players that can make plays like that, and sometimes it's tough. Just like on that third one, it's just a point shot, goes off of [Marc Staal's] back … to the wide-open guy in front. There's not much you can do to defend that."

Talbot made 29 saves. He started after relieving Henrik Lundqvist in a 3-0 loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday.

During the first intermission, the Bruins said rookie forward David Pastrnak would stay in the NHL past the nine games he has played, thereby using the first year of his entry-level contract.

"The decision that was made was pretty unanimous as far as should we keep him past the 10-game mark," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "As far as I was concerned as a coach, I wanted him on my team. I think management felt the same way."

Pastrnak, who scored four goals in the previous two games, was the 25th pick of the 2014 NHL Draft.

The Bruins are hitting their best form of the season heading into a home game Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets (18-20-3).

"I think the biggest thing, the biggest challenge was to find our game; it took us a while and now we're starting to find it, so now it's important for us to keep it and understand the importance of this second half here," Julien said. "It hasn't been an easy first half, so it's not going to be an easy second half either. We've got a lot of ground to make up for, and I think playing like we did tonight certainly helps."

New York, which had won 13 of 14 before losing two in a row, plays at Columbus on Friday.

"We're trying to win games," Rangers forward Martin St. Louis said. "We're playing some tough teams in tough buildings and we're going to bite, scratch, claw, whatever, trying to get some wins here heading into the [All-Star] break."

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