Halak, Ritchie lead Bruins past Rangers 1-0 for 5th straight

NEW YORK (AP) — Jaroslav Halak made 21 saves, Nick Ritchie scored in the second period and the Boston Bruins beat the New York Rangers 1-0 on Friday night for their fifth straight victory.

Halak earned his 51st career shutout as the East Division leaders extended their point streak to 10 games (9-0-1) in a tight-checking tussle that included several fights.

“It got a little bit physical and all of a sudden now our guys are engaged in the game offensively and physically,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “That’s when we certainly put our best foot forward and became the better team.”

Igor Shesterkin stopped 29 shots but the Rangers were blanked for the second time in three games and dropped their third in a row. Each of their last 11 games have been decided by two goals or fewer — eight with a one-goal margin.

“It’s not good enough to lose games by a goal,” defenseman Jacob Trouba said. “It’s the NHL, we’ve got to win games. We have to find a way to get points. Especially in a shortened season, we’ve got to find a way to win hockey games, that’s the bottom line.”

Halak improved his career record against the Rangers to 23-8-1. New York has been shut out three times this season, all at Madison Square Garden.

“We talked about it after the first period. Everybody was on the same page knowing we had to play better,” Halak said. “If we wanted to keep playing the same way like we did in the first period, it will be a long night. I thought we did a good job coming out in the second period — from that moment on, I think guys took over. Everybody was in the game, everybody did their job.”

Rangers star forward Artemi Panarin sat out with a lower-body injury and the Russian winger is considered day-to-day, coach David Quinn said. Panarin played only three shifts in the third period of Wednesday night’s overtime loss to the Bruins.

Ritchie scored at 9:27 of the second. The forward blew past rookie defenseman K’Andre Miller and snuck a short-side shot past Shesterkin. David Krejci and Jeremy Lauzon assisted on the play.

“Obviously, a big guy that can drive to the net and force their defense to defend,” Ritchie said of his skillset. “Play around the crease and open up some room for linemates and make it hard on the other team.”

New York killed off four minor penalties and has successfully killed 21 consecutive power plays in the past six games.

The Rangers also failed to convert on six power-play opportunities.

“We pass when we should shoot. We shoot when we should pass. We just make bad decisions and we are slow,” Quinn said. “We are not going to go anywhere with a power play clicking the way it is, looking the way it is. … We just have to be better.”

Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk did not skate due to a lower-body injury.

POINT STREAK SNAPPED

Charlie McAvoy’s eight-game point streak ended. The Long Island-born defenseman had 11 points (one goal, 10 assists) during the stretch. It was the longest point streak by a Bruins defenseman since Ray Bourque in 1995-96. … Brad Marchand’s nine-game point streak also was snapped in the victory.

ZIBANEJAD’S SCORING DROUGHT

Rangers center Mika Zibanejad has only one goal in 13 games this year after scoring a career-high 41 last season. In addition, the Swedish center has just one point in the past 10 games.

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME

The Rangers skated in their sixth consecutive home game, dating to Jan. 30 against the Penguins. New York is playing at least six straight home games for the 14th time in franchise history.

UP NEXT

Rangers: Host the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday.

Bruins: Visit the New York Islanders on Saturday.

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