A three-game winning streak has given way to a three-game losing streak. And as the Rangers played their 25th game of the season Thursday night in Boston, against the Bruins, the Blueshirts, as presently constructed, they look a long way from being a playoff- contending team.
The Bruins scored two goals in the first period and two in the second to chase goaltender Alexandar Georgiev and power their way to a 4-0 victory in the first of a two-game set between the teams at TD Garden. The loss dropped the Rangers (10-12-3) nine points out of the last playoff spot in the East Division.
The teams will meet again Saturday afternoon when the Rangers conclude their six-game road trip.
Boston’s top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak produced the first two goals, with Pastrnak scoring on a one-timer from just inside the blue line at 4:14 of the first period and Bergeron making it 2-0 with a shorthanded goal at 17:34.
A power-play goal by David Krejci at 3:31 of the second and a goal by Jake DeBrusk at 4:52 were enough for coach David Quinn, who pulled Georgiev. Keith Kinkaid replaced him and stopped all 13 shots he faced.
Quinn said he was "frustrated’’ by the loss.
"We got off to a good start, I thought we were playing well, I thought we had some chances early,’’ he said. "You give up a goal — long shot — makes it 1-0 . . . then, you know, the shorthanded goal just was a backbreaker in a lot of ways. You could kind of sense it. And, you know, they got goals on their chances and we didn’t.’’
Quinn said he didn’t want to pin the blame on Georgiev, who allowed four goals on 14 shots and has been pulled from each of his last two starts (seven goals against on 20 shots). But the coach couldn’t absolve the 25-year-old netminder of any of the goals, either.
"I think goaltending, defense and forwards all share responsibility when a goal is scored,’’ Quinn said. "So I don’t want to point the finger at Georgie. But you know, their chances did go in and ours didn’t.’’
The Rangers’ chances were never good going against Boston goalie Jaroslav Halak, who dominates them. The former Islander has shut out the Rangers both times he’s faced them this season and in his career is 24-8-1 against them with five shutouts. Halak made 27 saves.
"They have a really good line in their big boys with Marchand, Pastrnak and Bergeron,’’ Rangers defenseman Brendan Smith said. "I don’t think we played bad five-on-five. I think that some of our mistakes were too great, and they capitalized on that. Obviously, [they get] a shorthanded goal that makes it 2-0 . . . then they get a power-play goal. So obviously special teams is where they kind of amped it up on us.
"And it’s hard to win a game when you don’t score.’’
Quinn said the Rangers’ power play "needs to be fixed’’ after it went 0-for-4, generated little and gave up a shorthanded goal. Getting Artemi Panarin back would help. Panarin, who missed his ninth game since taking a leave of absence, returned to practice Wednesday but did not play Thursday.
Quinn was asked if Panarin might be available for Saturday’s game.
"I don’t know,’’ he said. "We’ll know tomorrow. We’ll have a better feel tomorrow when we practice.’’