Bruins hope to end Rangers' mastery over them
BOSTON -- Having failed in their bid to end one series losing streak, the Boston Bruins take aim at another one when the New York Rangers visit Saturday.
The Bruins, who lost their 11th straight game to the Washington Capitals Thursday night, have dropped six in a row to the Rangers, their old Original Six rivals.
The records of the two expected goaltenders in this latest matchup reflect the way the series has gone.
New York's Henrik Lundqvist comes in 26-12-2 with a 1.93 goals-against average and .936 save percentage in his career against the Bruins. However, he played (and won) Friday, and Ondrej Pavelec, an unspectacular 6-7-2 with 2.95/.912 lifetime against the Bruins, was an option to start Saturday.
Pavelec has stopped 85 of 89 shots his last two times out, going 1-0-1 in those two games.
But Saturday afternoon, the Rangers announced that Lundqvist would get the start.
Boston's Tuukka Rask is 9-8-3 with 2.29/.922 numbers against the Rangers.
The Rangers (17-12-3) defeated the Los Angeles Kings at Madison Square Garden Friday night, as 10 different players posted one point apiece in a 4-2 victory.
"They're one of the best teams in the West and one of the best organizations in the last little bit here so it was a good test for us tonight," said Rick Nash, who scored a goal. "I thought we played pretty much as close as a full 60 as we have all season."
The Bruins (15-10-4) suffered a 5-3 loss to the Capitals Thursday night, ending their three-game winning streak with only their third loss in the last 12 games. The Rangers are 8-3-1 in their last 12.
Boston might be getting Ryan Spooner back from his latest battle with a groin injury that has limited him to 10 games this season.
"We'll make that decision 100 percent tomorrow, but I think it's time," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said Friday. "We kind of went back and forth -- we don't want a reoccurrence if we can help it. The lineup was going well, obviously. Those are two of the biggest reasons, I think.
"We're confident when he goes in he'll play well. We just want to make sure he's got the best chance to stay in the lineup."
New York won the first of three 2017-18 meetings between the teams Nov. 8 in New York, a 4-2 victory as Jimmy Vesey, the Harvard product, scored two goals in 29 seconds.
Lundqvist made 31 saves in that game, which was coach Alain Vigneault's 200th victory behind the New York bench.
The Rangers will again be without Mika Zabanejad, who will miss his ninth straight game with a concussion. He is skating and should return soon.
"He's following the protocol," Vigneault said earlier Friday. "He skated on his own yesterday. As far as I know -- I haven't done a lot of checking there -- he's improving. We've got a practice on Monday and he'll practice with us Wednesday."
The Bruins announced that Matt Beleskey, who has $3.8 million coming to him each of the next two years and hasn't had a point in his last 24 games over two seasons, cleared waivers and is headed to Providence.
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