BOSTON – Chris Kreider scored the 14th goal, team leader Artemi Panarin had an assist in his first game since leaving the team and the New York Rangers beat the Boston Bruins 4-0 on Saturday to end a streak of three consecutive defeats.
Panarin left on February 22 after a Russian tabloid published allegations by a former coach that he attacked a woman in Latvia nearly a decade ago, which Panarin denies. His return clearly provided a boost for New York.
“You put him in the lineup and then it seems like we have more arrogance,” Rangers coach David Quinn said.
The Rangers finished 4-5 while he was out. Consistency has been a struggle for the Rangers this season, with and without Panarin, and even with him back in the lineup, the playoffs could be a reach. Boston now owns fourth place in the East with 32 points and is one game behind the Rangers, who are seven points behind.
But they looked good on Saturday. Keith Kinkaid stopped 18 shots for his first shutout since 2018. Ryan Strome, Pavel Buchnevich and K’Andre Miller each scored a goal for New York, which lost 4-0 in Boston on Thursday. Mika Zibanejad added two assists and Kreider had one.
“It was definitely a huge boost to get him back,” Zibanejad said of Panarin. “Not only because of the game, but also because of the costumes.”
Jaroslav Halak made 29 saves for the Bruins, who have lost eight of their last 12 games.
“You see a game like that and it’s, ‘Are we tired or are we out of shape?'” Said Boston coach Bruce Cassidy. “In the end, I think there are several things. But it is unacceptable, the effort has to be there every day. That is the most disappointing thing about today was the effort.”
The Rangers said the story about Panarin was fabricated and designed to intimidate him for his political views against Russian President Vladimir Putin. His former Kontinental Hockey League coach Andrei Nazarov said he was motivated to speak out about the alleged incident because he did not agree with Panarin’s criticism of the Russian government.
Playing in his fourth game this season, the 31-year-old Kinkaid was barely tested as the Rangers made the most loose pucks, limiting the Bruins’ raids and their ability to control the puck in the offensive zone.
At the end, a Rangers player was heard yelling, “That’s a boy, Keith!”
Retired from the taxi squad on March 6 when Igor Shesterkin was injured, Kinkaid played reliever Thursday, stopping all 13 shots. On Saturday, he saw just 11 on goal in the first two periods.
“I’m happy to be able to get back to having some NHL games to prove myself,” he smiled.
Boston forward Jake DeBrusk, who scored a goal Thursday after being benched and called by Cassidy about his game this season, missed the game because he was on COVID-19 protocol.
After a lackluster effort when they were resolutely outclassed Thursday, the Rangers were ready early on, hit the Bruins early and controlled most of the first two periods.
“We have to find a way to chain a couple of these games together,” Zibanejad said.
Miller’s wrist from the right point bounced off the net from the far post, making it 1-0 in just 3 minutes and 6 seconds of play.
“I think we couldn’t keep our game right away,” Boston forward Nick Ritchie said. “We couldn’t tilt the ice. It was a long game.”
Kreider’s goal made it 2-0 in the second period when he managed a pass from Zibanejad from the right corner after the puck slipped through the slot just past the stick of Jarred Tinordi’s shot attempt to block it.
Associated Press contributed to this report.