The Rangers couldn’t afford to make too many mistakes against the stingiest defensive team in the NHL.
Playing their second straight game without top-scoring defenseman Tony DeAngelo, the Blueshirts allowed one goal to deflect in off two of their players and then a backbreaking shorthanded score late in the second period in a 3-1 loss to NHL-leading Boston at the Garden on Sunday.
Mika Zibanejad netted the lone goal midway through the third period for the Rangers, who entered the day on a season-best four-game winning streak. Jaroslav Halak made 25 saves as the Bruins improved to 9-1-0 in their past 10 games and 37-11-12 (86 points) overall.
The Rangers (30-24-4) were without recently anointed No. 1 goalie Igor Shesterkin (ankle) for the third straight game, while DeAngelo (43 points) remained sidelined with an uppe- body injury suffered Thursday in Minnesota.
Alexandar Georgiev made 10 of his 31 saves to maintain a scoreless knot until the final minute of the opening period. Long Island product Charlie McAvoy’s flip from the right point double-deflected off Zibanejad’s stick and Jacob Trouba’s skate before floating over Georgiev’s stabbing attempt with his glove and into the net with 41.7 seconds remaining in the session. The goal initially was credited to Boston winger Chris Wagner, but it was changed to McAvoy between periods.
The Rangers received a four-minute power play early in the second, when David Krejci was assessed a double-minor penalty for swatting Ryan Lindgren in the face with his stick. With Adam Fox filling in for DeAngelo on the first power-play unit, the Rangers appeared disorganized and mounted little sustained pressure during the advantage.
Lindgren drew another power play late in the period when he was crosschecked by Brad Marchand. The Rangers received a break when Pavel Buchnevich was not also sent off for retaliating with another crosscheck on Marchand.
Jacob Trouba coughed up a puck at the Boston blue line during the ensuing five-on-four, sending Charlie Coyle in alone to beat Georgiev’s glove on the shorthanded breakaway rush with 1:18 left in the period. Quinn said there’s a “very good chance” DeAngelo will be back in the lineup Wednesday in Chicago, but the restless home crowd booed during another stalled power-play opportunity early in the third.
Zibanejad ended the man-up skid and prevented the Rangers from being blanked for the first time this season less than five minutes later, beating Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak through traffic with a blue-line wrister 9:52 into the final period. He has seven goals in his past 10 appearances and 25 for the season.
Patrice Bergeron added an empty-net goal with 12.2 seconds remaining.