NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, March 26th (All times eastern)
New York Rangers (40-30-5) at Boston Bruins (41-22-10), 1 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Bruins didn't let on-ice distractions steer them from their ultimate goal of winning the Northeast Division.
Coming off a blowout victory of one Original Six rival, Boston will try to move closer to securing the division title this afternoon and deal the New York Rangers a costly loss at TD Garden.
The spotlight was on the Bruins Thursday as they hosted the rival Canadiens. It was the first meeting between the teams since Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara's hit on Montreal's Max Pacioretty near the boards on March 8 that left the forward with a concussion and spinal fracture. While many wondered if the Habs would be out for revenge after Chara was not suspended for the hit, the Bruins took care of business on the ice by routing their division rivals, 7-0.
Chara had three assists and both Gregory Campbell and Nathan Horton scored twice as Boston extended its lead over second-place Montreal to five points with two games in hand and nine contests to play. The Canadiens are also in action Saturday as they host the Washington Capitals.
While Boston put some ground between itself and Montreal, the club is also on the verge of securing a postseason position. The Bruins need a victory in this game as well as a regulation loss by the Hurricanes later tonight against the Lightning.
Tim Thomas made 24 saves as Boston won its second straight and improved to 3-1-1 in its last five contests. The netminder extended a career best with his eighth shutout of the season and 25th of his career.
"It's the 25th [shutout] of my career, and it's a memorable one ... against Montreal. It's a nice victory I'll remember forever," Thomas said.
Boston will look to close out a three-game homestand perfect in what could be a meeting of top-notch goaltenders. Thomas is tied for second in the NHL in shutouts and leads the league with a 2.02 goals-against average and .938 save percentage, while the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist tops all netminders with 10 shutouts and should make his 20th straight start today.
Lundqvist nearly had another whitewash on Thursday, making 29 saves in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Senators that ended New York's season-best five-game winning streak.
Brandon Prust had a game-tying goal early in the third period and Lundqvist stopped the first four skaters he faced in the tiebreaker until getting bested by Erik Karlsson in the fifth round.
"Tonight everybody didn't [play with energy] and tonight we stole a point," said Rangers head coach John Tortorella. "We take the point, stuff it in our back pocket and move by this and get ready for a team that just spanked Montreal."
The point gave the Rangers 85 on the season with seven games to play, placing them seventh overall in the East and two points behind the Canadiens. Eighth- place Buffalo is two points back of the Blueshirts and the Hurricanes are five behind, but both teams have a game in hand.
New York opens a four-game road trip that includes a visit to Buffalo on Wednesday. The Rangers have won five of their last six as the guest.
The Rangers and Bruins have split two meetings so far this year, with each team winning on the road. Lundqvist made 35 saves in a 3-2 victory at Boston back on Oct. 23, just New York's second win in its last seven at TD Garden.
The Rangers have won four of the last six meetings overall and Lundqvist is an excellent 14-5-2 with a 1.49 GAA and four shutouts in his career versus the Bruins.
Thomas, who did not start in the previous meeting at Boston, is 4-6-3 with a 2.59 GAA in his career when facing New York.
03/26 10:30:17 ET