The good feeling the Rangers had in abundance after their big win over Buffalo on Thursday was gone by the end of the first period on Sunday night.
Top-line center Mika Zibanejad, the Blueshirts’ leading scorer, took a hit from Boston’s Patrice Bergeron late in the first period and left with an upper-body injury. The Rangers went on to surrender four goals in the second period and lost to the Bruins, 7-4, at the Garden.
If Zibanejad, who has a history of concussions, misses an extended period of time, that will be a much bigger loss.
After the game, coach David Quinn said his status is day-to-day. When asked if the injury is a concussion or something like it, he said no.
Asked if he thought the hit by Bergeron, who had a hat trick, was clean, Quinn sidestepped the question.
“I didn’t really see it. And . . . it’s for the league to decide,’’ he said. “I have no comment on it.’’
The Rangers (3-5-1) failed to get a shot on goal in the first 10-plus minutes of the game, but they did take a 1-0 lead at 10:19 of the first on their second shot as Micheal Haley, a late addition to the lineup when Jesper Fast was scratched because of personal reasons, poked in the rebound of Brendan Smith’s shot.
That, however, was the last bit of good news for the Rangers.
Zibanejad didn’t return to start the second and the Bruins (8-1-2) tied it just 11 seconds into the period on a goal by Bergeron that stood up after video review.
Boston’s David Pastrnak (five assists) drove the net and was tripped by a sliding Libor Hajek, which caused him to fall into Henrik Lundqvist, knocking him backward into the net.
Lundqvist stopped Pastrnak’s shot, but Bergeron chipped it in over the fallen goalie for his third goal of the season. The play was reviewed and the goal was allowed to stand.
“They said our ‘D’ man takes him out, but I still feel like [Pastrnak] has enough time to make a decision to follow through or to go round,’’ Lundqvist said. “He takes me out. I don’t think there’s a penalty on the play, but I’m very surprised that they called it a goal.’’
Less than a minute later, the Bruins scored again, with Brad Marchand netting his sixth at 1:08 to put Boston ahead 2-1.
Rangers defenseman Marc Staal was asked if the Rangers were still smarting from the loss of Zibanejad, and the Bergeron goal to start the period, when they allowed the second goal.
“After something like that happens . . . Mika was out, and then I think we just started giving them a lot of respect, and we . . . started turning the puck over way more,’’ Staal said. “We were just losing races; we were watching and not reacting and not playing on our toes. And a team like that will eat you alive. And that’s what they did.’’
Charlie Coyle’s first goal of the season made it 3-1 at 9:27, and Marchand’s second goal of the game, after he exited the penalty box, made it 4-1 at 12:09. Marchand was in the box serving a roughing penalty after a dust-up that started when a visibly frustrated Lundqvist came out of his net and body-checked Pastrnak as he chased a loose puck.
Lundqvist, who made 27 saves on 31 shots, did not return for the third period. He was replaced by Alexandar Georgiev, who gave up a goal to Zdeno Chara on the first shot he saw.
Pavel Buchnevich scored his second goal of the season at 8:15 of the third, but Bergeron’s second of the game, at 11:39, made it 6-2. The Rangers got a power-play goal from Chris Kreider and a goal from Brady Skjei to pull within 6-4 with 1:38 left, but Bergeron’s empty-netter with 44 seconds left sealed it.