BOSTON (AP) — If the Boston Bruins want an example of what’s needed in the final few games to make the playoffs, they can simply watch a replay of the first period against the New York Rangers.
Milan Lucic scored twice in the first 10 minutes, Carl Soderberg also scored in the first period, and the Bruins spoiled New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist’s return after a long layoff with a 4-2 victory over the Rangers.
The Bruins moved ahead 1-0 less than 2 minutes into the game when a rebound caromed into the net off Lucic’s right skate. It was originally waved off, but counted after a replay review. The Bruins went on to build a 3-0 lead after one.
“It seemed like everything kind of kept rolling after we got that break on the first goal,” Lucic said. “It’s good to see us step up and play the way we can play. Right now it’s just continuing to recapture what we had here tonight.”
Playing inspired hockey may be just what the Bruins need down the stretch.
“I think everybody’s really committed right now, the way they’re playing and that’s what we have to do,” captain Zdeno Chara said. “You can feel it and you can sense it.”
Reilly Smith added a goal for the Bruins, who snapped a six-game winless stretch (0-3-3) and entered the day tied with Ottawa for Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot. The Senators were at Toronto on Saturday night.
They even controlled play after starting goalie Tuukka Rask came out because he wasn’t feeling well early in the second.
Rask left 10 seconds into the second after stopping shots 14 shots. He didn’t return to the bench. After the game, coach Claude Julien said “it looks like it might have been a case of dehydration.”
“He’s scheduled to travel with us, he’s scheduled to be with us and he should be fine for (Sunday),” Julien said. “We just found out at the beginning of the second (period). I said, ‘Are you still having those symptoms?’ He said, ‘Yep.’ So I said, ‘Let’s get you out of here.'”
Backup Niklas Svedberg made 16 saves in relief.
Lundqvist missed seven weeks after a puck hit his neck. He stopped 26 shots in his return.
“Tough start,” Lundqvist said. “Obviously not the start I was looking for.”
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said the team’s play didn’t help the goalie.
“We didn’t give him a lot of help early on, but I thought he had a real good second period,” Vigneault said.
Rick Nash scored his team-leading 40th goal for New York, his third time in his career he’s reached that mark. Matt Hunwick scored in the final minute.
The Rangers began the day tied with Anaheim for the league’s best record, but were passed by the Ducks and Nashville Predators — the top two teams in the West — who both won.
“We weren’t making plays, we weren’t playing together and doing the things we normally do to other teams,” Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said.
Lucic’s second made it 2-0 at 9:26. Defenseman Torey Krug skated up the center of the ice and fed Lucic on the left wing. He fired a wrister than beat Lundqvist between the pads.
Soderberg stole a puck from defenseman Hunwick just outside the Rangers’ blue line, broke in alone and shifted to a forehand shot that slipped past Lundqvist on his stick side with 5:33 remaining in the first.
Smith scored off a rebound from the slot, making it 4-0 at 5:53 of the second.
Nash backhanded Chris Kreider’s pass behind Svedberg late in the second.
New York got 39 of 50 possible points while Lundqvist was sidelined.
NOTES: Vigneault said Cam Talbot will start Sunday. … Nash reached 40 twice with Columbus, getting 41 in 2003-04 and 40 in 2008-09. … The Rangers gave up three goals in a period for the first time in a month, the last was February 26 against Arizona. … Vigneault started his three players that grew up in the Boston area (Kreider, Kevin Hayes and Keith Yandle). … Soderberg scored his second goal in his last five games, but just the second in 29. … Smith scored his first in 15 games. … The Bruins’ last seven-game winless stretch came in early 2010. … New York F Tanner Glass was given a 5-minute major and a misconduct for butt ending Bruins D Adam McQuaid at the end of the game. Later, the NHL announced Glass was fined $3,897.85, the maximum allowed under the CBA for the infraction. … Both teams play Sunday: New York hosts Washington and Boston is at Carolina.