Jan 19, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; New York Rangers center Brian Boyle (22) and Boston Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid (54) trip over Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (40) during the first period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports

Defense physical, solid; Bruins manhandle Rangers 3-1


Take care of your defense and the offense will take care of itself.

Adam McQuaid checked down New York Rangers’ Ryan Callahan in front of the goal to prevent a point blank scoring opportunity, and it may well have saved an opening night win for the hometown Boston Bruins.

Tuukka Rask stopped 20 shots for Boston in his first game after taking over  for Tim Thomas, and the Bruins beat the New  York Rangers 3-1 in the lockout-delayed season opener on Saturday night., but it was the shot that never was that was the turning point in a tight game, part of a brilliant Bruins defensive effort that saw the Bruins kill off a 5 on 3 Rangers’ power play.

Six minutes into the third period, the Bruins clinging to a 2-1 lead and the visiting New York Rangers with the two-man advantage, the Bruins defenseman cleaned Rangers’ right winger Callahan off his feet in front of the crease as the puck was centered to him…

…the puck deflected to the corner where left winger rick Nash was called for hooking, making it a more manageable 4 on 3 for mere seconds, and a man advantage for themselves just 20 seconds later – and just seconds after the Rangers got back to full strength, Bruins birthday boy Johnny Boychuk fired a laser from the right wing that beat goalie Henrik Lundqvist for the final tally.

Boston pelted Lundqvist with 34 shots, with Milan Lucic, Daniel Paille and Boychuk managing to get the puck behind him.

Nash made his presence felt in his first game with the Rangers, logging the helper on the Rangers’ lone goal tallied by Brad Richards.  Nash has played in Columbus with the Blue Jackets for the past 6 seasons before signing a deal with the Rangers before the lockout.

The game was physical and sharp from the outset, but it took until there were just seven minutes left in the second period before the two teams finally dropped the gloves.

Predicatably, Shawn Thornton was in the middle of the first scrap, he and Rangers winger Mike Rupp squaring off, then Bruins center Gregory Campbell squaring off with New York defenseman Stu Bickel a few seconds later – all four sat for 5 minutes in the poke.

The Bruins next take the ice on Monday for a Martin Luther King Day matinee against Winnipeg at TD Garden before heading to New York for an early rematch with these Rangers on Wednesday night while the Rangers have a quick turnaround, heading home to host the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday night.

Lucic was tossed from the match with 5 1/2 minutes left with no announcement from the referees, but his physical play answered questions regarding his game shape and focus.  He had looked limited in the whirlwind 6 day camp, and coupled with his wife giving birth to his first child on Thursday, there was legitimate concern.  But all seems well with Lucic and the Bruins…

…funny how winning does that.

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