NEW YORK – Forget the new NHL and its wide-open offence when the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins get together.
These games harken back to their Original Six days.
For the fifth time in nine meetings between the longtime rivals, one goal was enough to settle things. Marian Gaborik got it on his return to the lineup following a right leg injury and Henrik Lundqvist made it stand up in the Rangers’ 1-0 win Sunday.
“It was a fun game,” Lundqvist said after his 150th NHL victory and 21st career shutout. “This is what I was used to last year … low scoring and tight. I got a little spoiled this year. We have been scoring a lot.”
The signing of Gaborik has been a big reason the Rangers’ offence has shown a greater spark. He scored for the fourth straight game, following a pair of New York losses while he was out, and raised his season total to 11 goals.
New York was outscored 6-3 in road defeats to the New York Islanders and Minnesota Wild. The decision to put Gaborik back in the lineup was made during pre-game warmups.
“Obviously, I am not where I want to be but I will go out there and help anyway,” Gaborik said. “It was a huge team effort. It started with (Lundqvist). I felt like everybody contributed. It was a huge win.”
With most New York sports fans focused on a pair of NFL games involving local teams and the Yankees’ World Series run, the Rangers returned home from a disappointing road trip and beat the stingy Bruins.
Boston continued its season-long trend of alternating wins and losses, absorbing a tough-luck defeat one day after backup goalie Tuukka Rask shut out Edmonton at home. Tim Thomas made 22 saves in his return to the nets. His only blemish was Gaborik’s second-period goal.
“Lundqvist was solid, but their team D was pretty good,” Thomas said. “Both teams’ D was good. Can you think of an odd-man rush for either team?
“You’d like to win them all, but we’re headed in the right direction. Even if every game we’re not getting the results.”
The Rangers will now try to make some noise during a three-game trip to Western Canada that begins Tuesday at Vancouver. New York (9-5-1) ended a 1-4-1 skid that came on the heels of a seven-game winning streak, largely on the strength of their penalty-killing that was perfect in five chances.
“We needed some confidence to feel good about ourselves and as a team,” Lundqvist said. “This week is going to be a challenge for us. We know it’s going to be tough, but this will definitely help us.”
New York is 2-2-1 in the five recent 1-0 games against Boston.
Lundqvist was at his best in the third period when the Bruins had four straight minutes of power-play time. He denied Mark Recchi in front on a quick backhander 6:21 into the period, and then turned Recchi aside again in the closing minute.
Those stops and Gaborik’s goal were enough to give him his first shutout of the season.
“It feels good,” Lundqvist said. “If I want to stay in this league, you have to keep winning. But 150 feels good, but another 150 will feel even better.”
Late in the second, Vinny Prospal raced the puck up left into the Bruins zone and dropped the puck back to Gaborik in the high slot for a hard one-timer that beat Thomas over his glove with 4:09 left.
“I didn’t see the shot released,” Thomas said. “I caught it maybe eight feet out from me in my peripheral vision. There was a crowd. Everyone was trying to play good D.”
Gaborik is clearly the key cog in the Rangers’ attack.
“I don’t think the players are resting on it … but that’s why Gabby is here,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said. “That is why we made the deal. We felt we needed a game-breaker and I think that helps you win games consistently.”
Thomas was sharp after taking Saturday’s game off. He made a fine pad stop on Brandon Dubinsky’s one-timer in the first period while New York was short-handed, and then kicked his foot out later in the frame to deny Ales Kotalik’s drive during a Rangers power play.
Boston’s offence is greatly compromised by the absence of leading scorers Marc Savard and Milan Lucic, who will be out several weeks with injuries.
“We played hard,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “We did everything, except right now we’re just not scoring goals.
“Until that happens, we’re going to be dealing with these types of games. It becomes frustrating for everybody.”
NOTES: Lundqvist’s previous shutout was a 3-0 win over New Jersey on March 30. … Rangers enforcer Donald Brashear sat out because of a lingering arm injury. LW Sean Avery and LW Christopher Higgins returned to the lineup after sitting out Friday at Minnesota. … The Bruins have killed 14 straight penalties.