The sour taste of back-to-back blowout losses was enough to snap the Bruins out of their funk, as the Bruins scored goals in all three periods to push themselves to a 4-1 victory over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Out of the gate with a head of steam, the Bruins put themselves on the board first when a tremendous individual effort from Charlie Coyle to create his own triangle to beat the Rangers’ K’Andre Miller and then goalie Alexandar Georgiev for his fourth goal of the season, scored 6:41 into the game.
What a goal from Charlie Coyle.— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) February 28, 2021
1-0 Bruins. pic.twitter.com/gj0eE7ZdHw
With Georgiev taken out of the game after the Coyle goal — he took all of Nick Ritchie to the head moments before Coyle’s goal and was seemingly pulled by the league’s concussion spotters a little later than you would’ve hoped — the Bruins used Igor Shesterkin’s relief appearance to put themselves up by two behind a Trent Frederic tally scored with just 1:46 remaining in the period.
The goal, Frederic’s second in his last four games and off Frederic’s stick on a drive across the slot, was created off what was a great move by Connor Clifton to trick Brendan Lemieux into thinking Clifton was going to his D partner before firing it on net.
The move back to Georgiev, sporting a cut near his eye, didn’t stop the bleeding in the second period, either, with a Charlie McAvoy bullet to make it 3-0 for the Bruins through 40 minutes of play.
Charlie McAvoy blasts one home.— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) February 28, 2021
3-0 Bruins. pic.twitter.com/z8avyI6Qjo
But the Rangers finally answered in the third period, and off the white-hot stick of Colin Blackwell, who rifled a shot through Tuukka Rask and immediately bodied Greg McKegg as the puck beat Rask.
The Rangers were given a final chance to bring themselves within striking distance with a late-game unsportsmanlike call against the Bruins’ Craig Smith, but a board battle victory from Sean Kuraly and dish to Coyle opened the door for No. 13’s second goal of the evening, this time on an empty net.
Rask finished with 20 saves for his eighth victory of the season.
This game was really won with what had to be one of the team’s best 60-minute efforts of the season in terms of movement and physicality. The Bruins were able to win their share of battles and move cleanly through the neutral zone, and their physical game made Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren, who targeted David Pastrnak countless times on Friday night, an obvious target throughout the night.
The game even concluded with Ritchie fighting Lemieux after the final horn.
“It felt like a must-win,” McAvoy said. “It’s good to get the result today and the urgency of our team was that we wanted to fix this road trip and at least finish it on a high note.”
And after calling out some of the team’s roleplayers following Friday’s defeat, Bruce Cassidy’s Sunday lineup came with three moves, with McKegg and Karson Kuhlman plugged in for Anders Bjork and Chris Wagner up front, while Steven Kampfer stepped in for John Moore.
McKegg finished with three hits and three shots in 11:22 of play in what was his first game of the season, and Kuhlman finished with two shots and two hits in 10:59 of action.
Kampfer, meanwhile, skated on a third pairing with Urho Vaakanainen, and finished with two hits, a blocked shot, and plus-1 rating in 15:27 of play in his season debut.
The Bruins will make their way back home for a Wednesday meeting with the Capitals.