Bergeron, Bruins riding high into matchup at Rangers
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The Boston Bruins were able to enjoy Patrice Bergeron's milestone evening Tuesday night. The New York Rangers were not so fortunate during Mika Zibanejad's record-setting performance Monday night.
A pair of teams coming off far different experiences are scheduled to meet Wednesday night, when the Rangers host the Bruins in a battle of "Original Six" franchises at Madison Square Garden.
The host Bruins earned a stirring win Tuesday night, when Bergeron, playing in his 1,000th NHL game, scored twice to lead Boston to a 3-1 victory over the Metropolitan Division-leading New York Islanders. The Rangers absorbed a frustrating defeat Monday, when they squandered a late lead in the third period and fell to the visiting Los Angeles Kings, 4-3, in overtime.
Bergeron, who is one of 24 active players to reach 1,000 games, opened the Bruins' scoring by putting back a David Pastrnak shot early in the second period. After Peter Cehlarik scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third for Boston, Bergeron iced the game by scoring an empty-netter in the final minute.
"Nice script, glad it went our way," Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said afterward. "Couple things had to happen along the way in the third period there, but I'm happy for Bergy. He's a consummate pro, terrific person, terrific hockey player, terrific dad and, I assume, a terrific husband. All the above. So very happy things worked out well for him today, and I'm not surprised."
The empty-net goal served as a reminder of how well-respected Bergeron is in the Bruins locker room. Pastrnak was all alone heading towards the Islanders' net, but instead of scoring, he waited for Bergeron to catch up before setting him up for the easy, feel-good goal.
"Means a lot, obviously," Bergeron said. "I was surprised. I saw him look a couple times. I was like, 'Oh no, he's going to drop it,' but we were definitely alone and (he) very much appreciate(s) it."
The Rangers appeared on pace to enjoy Zibanejad's historic evening Monday, when he assisted on New York's first goal and scored the second to become the first player in franchise history to collect a point on 10 straight goals. Zibanejad's assist broke a tie for the team record with Rod Gilbert, who had a point on eight straight goals during the 1967-68 season.
Zibanejad's streak ended when Adam McQuaid scored an unassisted goal to put the Rangers up 3-2 a little less than midway through the third. But Adrian Kempe tied the game for the Kings with 59.6 seconds left, and Tyler Toffoli won it in overtime seconds after Zibanejad hit the crossbar.
"Listen, you've got to play 60 minutes," Rangers head coach David Quinn said afterward. "You can't give an opportunity to a team like that that's got some high-end guys that can take advantage of opportunities."
Squandering a second point was particularly discouraging for the Rangers, who enter Wednesday 12th in the Eastern Conference, nine points out of the final wild-card spot.
"I don't know, in overtime, anything can happen, but we're up by one with a minute to go and we don't do a good job coming back and they score," Zibanejad said afterward. "We lost a point right there, and it's just disappointing."
A pair of backup goalies are scheduled to draw the start Wednesday night.
With the Bruins playing the second game of a back-to-back set, Jaroslav Halak will start in place of Tuukka Rask, who earned the win Tuesday by making 28 saves. Halak last played Jan. 29, when he took the loss after recording 24 saves as Boston fell to the Winnipeg Jets, 4-3, in the shootout.
Alexandar Georgiev will start for the Rangers as No. 1 goalie Henrik Lundqvist takes a seat. Georgiev also hasn't played since Jan. 29, when he took the defeat after making 18 saves in New York's 1-0 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Halak is 7-1-1 in nine career appearances against the Islanders, whom he played for from the 2014-15 through 2017-18 seasons. Georgiev has never faced the Bruins.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 6, 2019