BOSTON — On Wednesday, the Rangers built a three-goal lead and held on for a victory over the Hurricanes.
On Friday afternoon, the two-goal lead they held midway through the second period proved to be not big enough against the team with the best record in the league.
David Krejci swept in a pass from David Pastrnak 1:40 into overtime to give the Boston Bruins a 3-2 victory over the Rangers in a nationally televised matinee at TD Garden.
The Bruins (18-3-5) fell behind 2-0 early in the second and were outplayed for most of the first two periods. But Boston rallied with a goal late in the second and another in the third to set up the three-on-three overtime.
On the second shift of overtime, Pastrnak skated in up the middle and made a move on Pavel Buchnevich. As Adam Fox drifted over to him and Henrik Lundqvist came across to play the shot, Pastrnak sent a drop pass to Krejci, who put it into an open net.
“You know, for me, I just have to respect that he can shoot it anywhere there,’’ Lundqvist said. “So he’s dragging, dragging. I follow him, and then when he puts it right back . . . the game is over.’’
The Rangers (12-9-3) had their chances to win this one. Goals by Buchnevich in the first period and Filip Chytil early in the second gave them a 2-0 lead.
Helped by four power plays in the first two periods, the Rangers were outshooting the Bruins 21-11 at one point. But when the Rangers were given a five-on-three power play for 1:02 late in the second period, they failed to take advantage, and that came back to haunt them.
“You know, that five-on-three, to me, and our power play really cost us tonight,’’ said coach David Quinn, a native of Cranston, Rhode Island, a lifelong Bruins fan and a former Boston University coach. “You go 0-for-6 and you have a five-on-three and you get a four-minute [power play] and you barely get a scoring chance out of it, it just really is frustrating.’’
Quinn called his timeout as soon as the Rangers got the two-man advantage, sensing that a goal there might put the game away. Matt Grzelcyk already was in the box, having high-sticked Mika Zibanejad at 12:52 of the period, when Sean Kuraly was called for cross-checking Fox in the Rangers’ defensive zone at 13:51, setting up the two-man advantage.
“That’s it,’’ Quinn said. “I mean you’re 3-0 [if] you score on a five-on-three. The whole game kind of changes. [We] just didn’t execute.’’
Kuraly made it hurt when he was credited with a goal at 18:28 on a crazy sequence. Jake DeBrusk whipped a shot into traffic that Kuraly deflected off the post. Lundqvist, in reaching behind him to try to corral the rebound, knocked the puck in with his stick.
Boston then tied the score at 4:27 of the third when Pastrnak, the league’s leading goal-scorer, happened to be in the right spot at the right time to whack in the rebound of a shot by Krejci for his 24th goal in 26 games.
The Rangers had one more great chance to win it when Boston’s Par Lindholm was given a double-minor for high-sticking Brendan Smith at 12:58 of the third period. But the Rangers failed to score.
The Rangers, who already had beaten a No. 1 team in the league this season when they dominated the Capitals, 4-1, on Nov. 20, will face the Devils on Saturday afternoon in New Jersey.