BOSTON — David Quinn did everything he could to keep his team focused on winning a game rather than his return to Boston for the first time as Rangers coach.
Yes, the Rhode Island native and former Boston University coach acknowledged before his team faced the Bruins that coaching a game at TD Garden was a big deal.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say that when the schedule came out this wasn’t, probably, the first game I looked at from a road game standpoint,’’ he said.
But the two points were more important to him, and the Rangers earned them with a 3-2 victory that was made possible by two goals from Mika Zibanejad (Nos. 16 and 17) and a huge performance by the penalty-killing unit, which kept the Bruins off the scoreboard despite five power plays.
Zibanejad broke a 2-2 tie with a power-play goal at 9:05 of the third period. The win was the Rangers’ third in a row and lifted them to 21-20-7 as they enter the All-Star break.
Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves, including three on a late Bruins power play after former Bruin Adam McQuaid — also returning to Boston for the first time as a Ranger — was given a double-minor for roughing with 4:33 left after a dust-up with Boston’s Chris Wagner. McQuaid went after Wagner (who got only a single roughing minor) because he had hit Rangers forward Jesper Fast.
It was career victory No. 446 for Lundqvist, which moved him past Terry Sawchuk into sole possession of sixth place on the all-time goaltender wins list. Lundqvist is only eight wins behind Curtis Joseph for fifth.
“Our penalty kill stepped up,’’ Lundqvist said. “We’ve been talking about it all week, and today was probably the best game we’ve played on the penalty kill. And it wins us the game, I think.’’
Lundqvist also said the Rangers knew the game meant a lot to Quinn and McQuaid. “It was a special game for them,’’ he said. “And to be able to pull off the win here and go into the break on a high note, it’s a very good feeling.’’
With a long break upcoming, many of the Rangers who are from the Boston area didn’t come back on the team charter flight after the game. The Rangers don’t play again until Jan. 29, when they will host the Flyers at the Garden.
After being forced to kill off six minutes in penalties early in the first period, the Rangers fell behind 1-0 on Danton Heinen’s goal at 17:28. But rookie Filip Chytil tied the score 64 seconds later by nearly re-creating the goal he scored Thursday against Chicago. He picked up the puck in his own end, skated up the right wing boards, drove to the net on his backhand and pushed the puck past Boston goalie Tuukka Rask to tie it at 1.
What was different about this goal, though, was that after he released the shot, Chytil was checked by Bruins defenseman and Long Beach product Charlie McAvoy. Chytil flipped up in the air and crashed into the head of Rask, who left the game with what the Bruins said was a concussion.
Former Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak, who allowed two goals on 13 shots, entered and played the rest of the way.
The Rangers took the lead on Zibanejad’s first goal when he deflected in a shot by Brady Skjei at 5:22 of the second period. Boston tied it when Brad Marchand crashed the net to convert a feed from behind the goal by David Pastrnak at 3:24 of the third.