BOSTON - All of a sudden, the pucks aren't going in for the Rangers.
Blanked by the Islanders on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden, the Blueshirts lost their second straight, 3-0, to the Bruins, who have won five in a row.
Last night at TD Garden, missed opportunities -- and Tuukka Rask, who made 30 saves -- doomed the Rangers, who flew to Columbus, another heavy team with a top goalie, for a back-to-back Friday night.
Leading 1-0 at the start of the second, the Bruins went up by two on a beautiful play and a gaffe by the Rangers' defense.
Dan Boyle carried the puck into the Bruins' zone but gave it away on a poor pass, and the Bruins came back. Defenseman Torey Krug, at the top of the left circle, faked and fired a slap pass to an untouched David Krejci at the right post for a gimme against a helpless Cam Talbot (29 saves) at 2:49.
At 6:38 of the second, Rick Nash missed the net on a breakaway down the left side. It was another solo opportunity that went awry. In the first period, Rask stopped Chris Kreider with his left skate and slid to the left to deny Lee Stempniak's backhand on individual rushes. Carl Hagelin also hit the post off a rush at 11:17 of the first period.
The Rangers haven't scored for 121 minutes, since Nash's empty-netter against San Jose.
The power play, ranked ninth in the NHL but missing injured center Derek Stepan, also failed on three chances. The second came at 11:14 of the second when Brad Marchand went off for cross-checking; the best chance came when Martin St. Louis whiffed in the crease. At the end of the second, the Rangers had 21 shots, but nine of those came on the power play.
For the second straight game, the opponent scored first. Patrice Bergeron won a faceoff against Derick Brassard back to defenseman Dougie Hamilton and Bergeron went to the net. Brassard didn't track him, and he put in a rebound at the near post that Talbot could've stopped at the four-minute mark.
But the Rangers, who ranked 29th on draws, did not fare too badly against the Bruins, who rank fourth.
If there is any silver lining, the Rangers were at least more competitive than against the Islanders. The penalty-kill, which succeeded four times, could not be faulted. In the second, when Kevin Hayes received a double minor for high-sticking and bloodying Adam McQuaid, the Rangers killed all four minutes to keep it 2-0.
The game continued to be testy. At 6:13 of the third, Kreider boarded Carl Soderberg from behind, and Chris Kelly charged in to retaliate. Kreider got two minutes for boarding and five for fighting and Kelly got an instigating penalty, fighting and a 10-minute misconduct.
The Bruins salted it away at 9:49, when Loui Eriksson had time in front with a rebound, backed up and lifted the puck over Talbot to make it 3-0.
The Bruins (24-15-6) have 54 points, two more than the Rangers (24-13-4.) The Rangers have four games in hand.
Bruins coach Claude Julien had credited the return of defensemen Zdeno Chara and McQuaid as a key reason for their surge, as well as the play of Rask (7-0-3 in last 10 starts). That aside, the Rangers need to bury their chances in their next two games on the road.