New York Rangers top Boston Bruins in battle of East elite

NEW YORK — The New York Rangers outhustled the Boston Bruins, put seven goals behind last season’s top goaltender and leapfrogged them to earn the NHL’s best record with a 7-4 win on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

Their reaction? Not a big deal.

“You’ve got 82 tests throughout the year. Obviously, with how great of a team they’ve been over the last few years, it’s a game you want to give your best effort. And we got the two points, right?” said goaltender Jonathan Quick, who made 27 saves in the win.

“Two points. Against a very good team,” said forward Chris Kreider, who scored twice in the victory. “I don’t give big-picture views. We’re happy with the game today. We came away with two points. Enjoy the day tomorrow and get back at it.”

This was the highly anticipated first meeting between these two Original Six franchises this season. Boston entered Madison Square Garden with the best record in the NHL at 14-2-3. The Rangers had emerged as an early season powerhouse in the East. With the win over the Bruins, New York improved to a 15-3-1 record and an .816 points percentage, best in the league prior to the Vegas Golden Knights playing later Saturday.

“We knew where they were (in the standings). It was kind of in the back of our heads coming into this game,” said defenseman K’Andre Miller, coming as close as any Ranger would to calling it a statement win. “We’ve had a lot of gutsy wins. A lot of 60-minute hard-fought battles. Doing that against a top 3 team in the league is always nice, and it shows that we’re a pretty good team that’s done some things to get to this point.”

The Rangers jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Nick Bonino and Kreider, who scored on the power play. Boston called a time out, regrouped, and scored two goals in 24 seconds to tie the game.

Kreider scored a shorthanded goal, his 13th tally of the season, to make it 3-2 to end the first period. But Boston countered quickly in the third period on a power-play goal from David Pastrnak (13th). Goals by Jimmy Vesey and Miller near the end of the second period broke the tie and sent the Rangers on their way to the decisive victory.

“Once it went to 3-3, that push there at the end of the period to get a couple of goals showed a lot of resiliency,” said Rangers coach Peter Laviolette.

Both teams were playing their second straight afternoon game, but the Rangers had more jump all game.

“It’s unacceptable. That team played a back-to-back and we looked like we did way more than they did. And that’s not fair to our goalie,” said center Charlie Coyle, who was critical of his team’s effort. “That’s not the way we do things. There’s no reason for that. It shouldn’t happen.”

Goalie Linus Ullmark, who won the Vezina Trophy last season as the NHL’s top goaltender, gave up seven goals on 40 shots.

“We’re not going to control the outcome of the game every night. What we can control is our compete level, and that wasn’t good enough,” said Boston captain Brad Marchand. “They came ready to play and we played slow from the get-go. You’ve figure with a team like New York, both of us being high in the standings, we’d be a little more prepared to play.”

The Bruins dropped their second straight game, having lost on Friday to the Detroit Red Wings.

The Rangers won their third straight game and have won seven of eight overall.

“We all knew that we had a really good team. We can build off this,” said Miller. “I still don’t think we’ve played our best hockey yet, which is scary and fun to say at the same time.”

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