BOSTON — It was as publicly emotional as anyone had seen rookie Pavel Buchnevich since he arrived here from Russia last summer.
After scoring his first NHL goal on a power play in the third period of Saturday night’s 5-2 win, the 21-year-old forward struggled to convey his feelings without a translator: “Step [Derek Stepan] good pass for me, I close eyes, it’s shot, score, score. It’s long games with no goal, no good for me. I don’t know the words.”
As Buchnevich held the puck, wrapped with white tape to commemorate the moment, he was asked how he felt: “Dream. It’s my dream. I think of my dad and mom . . . I spoke to him, they enjoy, no sleep, watch every game.”
It was Buchnevich’s seventh game; he missed five with back spasms. “It’s funny,” Alain Vigneault said. “When Nick [Holden] scored [in the first period], Pavel joked on the bench: ‘I’m the only guy that doesn’t have a goal yet.’ So I’m happy that he was able to finish. He’s got a lot of confidence with the puck, makes some pretty good plays, and tonight he was able to capitalize on one of them.”
Grabner stays hot
Michael Grabner is on a tear. The 29-year-old right wing scored his seventh goal in 12 games, stealing the puck and scoring unassisted in the third period. He also assisted on Stepan’s shorthanded goal.
Grabner scored nine goals last season for Toronto and eight the previous season with the Islanders.
“I’m not trying to explain it. I’m just trying to enjoy it,” Vigneault said. “I think he’s enjoying the moment. You see the speed, the threat that he can push the other Ds back, and right now, he’s burying some of his opportunities.”
Said Stepan: “He might be one of the best penalty-killers I’ve seen. He’s so smart, anticipates well, he can skate, and that’s something that’s really hard. He’s something special.”
Henrik on ‘start’
Henrik Lundqvist confessed that he doesn’t exactly know when we can stop referring to the “start” of the season.
“Maybe in the next couple weeks,” said Lundqvist, who backed up Antti Raanta on Saturday night and will start Sunday night against Winnipeg at Madison Square Garden, “We haven’t traveled a lot, but we will [a four-game trip to Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Columbus that begins Saturday]. Usually, one trip and then you’re in it.”
Lundqvist, who had played nine of 11 games to begin the season, said he didn’t expect to play both ends of this back-to-back, as he did in Washington and against Arizona at home on Oct. 22 and 23. “The focus has been to get some off time,” he said. “You always want to do more. But sometimes you do a little less and get more. It definitely helps you mentally.”
PK unit needs work
The Rangers entered ranked 20th in the NHL on the penalty kill, allowing a goal in five of the 11 games before Saturday night. That’s not good enough for Vigneault, who called the unit a “work in progress.”
Vigneault got his wish with not one but two shorthanded goals against the Bruins. The Rangers also killed three Boston power plays.
The front office brought in free agents Grabner, who has been strong, and Nathan Gerbe, who didn’t make the roster, specifically to improve on last season’s ranking of 26th. Kevin Hayes and J.T. Miller, who have little experience shorthanded, still are learning, he said.
Defenseman Adam Clendening could play Sunday night for the first time since Oct. 22. In that game against Washington, he posted his only point of the season, an assist. He has been a healthy scratch for the last seven games. “Just staying ready. I’ll be in there soon,” he said Saturday. “We’re winning, so I can’t complain.”