NEW YORK — After an atrocious second quarter of the season, the New York Rangers are starting to find their game again.
They beat Western Conference-leading Dallas on Tuesday. They rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period and took the lead against Eastern Conference-leading Washington before losing in overtime on Saturday.
“The way we came back today, we played a really solid game and turned it up in the third, which is really a good sign that we have that determination and won’t give up,” said Henrik Lundqvist, who made 32 saves — including a highlight-reel stop on Max Talbot.
It’s been a long time coming. After opening the season 16-3-2, the Rangers went 3-9-2 before going 4-2-1 in their last seven games.
“The last four or five games we’ve started playing like ourselves,” said Derick Brassard, who scored early in the third period to tie it. “Even if we are down in the score, we see those signs that we can come back. It shows a lot of character. The difference in the third period tonight was our will, and we found a way to win the game.”
It marked the first time this season the Rangers overcame a deficit at the start of the third period and won in regulation. They were 0-11-2 entering the game.
The victory also was only their fourth in 12 meetings with Boston.
“We have to learn to win tight games,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “Need more desperation at the end. We were good for the first 40 minutes. The third period just wasn’t as good.”
Lundqvist kept the game tied with a magnificent save on Talbot shortly after Brassard evened the score early in the third.
With the goalie out of position after a shot in front, the puck came to Talbot to the left of a wide-open net. Lundqvist slid back with his pad on the ice and then lifted his leg to make a pad save as Talbot elevated the puck.
Fast got the game-winner by deflecting a point shot from defenceman Keith Yandle.
“I was just trying to find a way to get it to Quickie in front and he made a great tip,” Yandle said.
The Rangers needed only 35 seconds to wipe out a 1-0 deficit entering the third period. The big move was made by coach Alain Vigneault, who put Brassard, Mats Zuccarello and Rick Nash back on the same line.
New York defenceman Ryan McDonagh worked the puck along the left boards and shovelled it to Zuccarello. He worked his way toward the net and flipped the puck to the crease past Rask and defenceman Torey Krug to a wide-open Brassard for his 15th goal.
Hayes, who was playing against his brother, Kevin, for the fifth time, gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead at 9:04 of the second period with a 40-shot snap shot to the corner of the net that simply beat a stunned Lundqvist.
The Bruins probably deserved a bigger lead. Ryan Spooner clanged a shot off the post on a first-period breakaway, and Brett Connolly rang another shot off the post late in the second when Boston kept the puck in the Rangers end for almost the final 2 minutes.
“We knew they would come hard in the third,” Rask said. “It is what it is. We should definitely get a point in a game like this.”
Lundqvist, making his ninth consecutive start, became the first Rangers goalie to record 20,000 career saves.
NOTES: Rangers D Dan Girardi left with a lacerated hand in the second period and did not return. … With Chris Kreider returning to the lineup after missing two games with a cut hand, rookie Oscar Lindberg was a healthy scratch for the second time this season. … The game was Boston’s third on a five-game road trip, with the final two stops in Philadelphia and Buffalo. … The Rangers play their next three on the road against the Islanders, Flyers and Capitals. … Krug played in his 200th NHL game, while fellow Bruins D Adam McQuaid missed his third straight with an upper-body injury.