BOSTON — Mika Zibanejad had two goals and Pavel Buchnevich had three assists, as the weary New York Rangers, short-handed after a rollercoaster week on and off the ice, outlasted the Boston Bruins, 5-4, in the season finale for the road team Saturday.
K’Andre Miller, Alexis Lafreniere and Vitali Kravtsov also scored for the Rangers, who were minus leading scorer Artemi Panarin, defenseman Jacob Trouba and forward Chris Kreider, among other regulars.
In a week that began with a humiliating 6-3 loss to the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden Monday, included two more losses to the Capitals and Bruins in which they were outscored 8-2, and also featured the surprising dismissals of their president and general manager, the Rangers closed with one of their most complete third-period performances of the season. And it all came in what could have been the final game for coach David Quinn.
“You want to go out on a winning note, because you’re going to carry whatever happens today throughout the summer. And we talked about it from an individual standpoint and collectively as a team standpoint,” Quinn said. “I thought our guys did a hell of a job, we showed a lot of characteristics you’re going to need moving forward.”
In a press conference introducing new president and general manager Chris Drury this week, the former Rangers forward said Quinn, and the entire coaching staff, would be evaluated at season’s end. This came after team owner James Dolan fired president John Davidson and general manager Jeff Gorton.
The dismissals came after Panarin was injured a fracas orchestrated by Capitals forward Tom Wilson Monday that led to a $5,000 fine and sparked a fight-filled rematch two nights later.
There will be no playoffs, and no perhaps no Quinn, in this team’s future, but the Rangers won’t soon forget this victory, which included four third-period goals and positive signs for the future. Lafrenière, the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL draft last year, finished his rookie season with 12 goals, and Zibanejad’s pair ended his season with 24. The victory halted a five-game losing streak and secured a fifth-place finish in the East Division.
“We kind of talked about that before the game. These last 10 days, it just felt so bad, just the way things have gone, and all that’s going on within our organization and you kind of forget that you want to judge your season by the totality of it,” Quinn said. “It was great to finish the way we did.”
The Bruins, meanwhile, missed a chance to secure the No. 3 seed in the East, in the loss, though David Pastrnak scored his 200th career goal and Brad Marchand had his team-leading 28th. Boston had earned at least a point in their previous six games (5-0-1). Tuukka Rask stopped 18 shots in the loss.
“Tough lesson, but we have to learn from it,” Pastrnak said. “We have to be ready for next week, and we have a few games left to get better.”
Boston can clinch third in the East if the New York Islanders lose Saturday night to the New Jersey Devils or by collecting two points in its final two games. The Bruins host the Islanders on Monday night.
But Saturday was more about the team that is not moving on, and during what could be Quinn’s final postgame press conference, he was asked if needed a break.
“Do I ever,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.