BOSTON — Mika Zibanejad scored two of New York’s four third-period goals, and the Rangers ended their season with a 5-4 victory over the Boston Bruins on Saturday to halt a five-game losing streak.
Alexis Lafrenière and Vitali Kravtsov also scored in a wild third when the Rangers turned a 2-1 deficit to a 4-2 edge. K’Andre Miller added a goal for the Rangers, and Keith Kinkaid made 28 saves before leaving with an injury midway into the third. Igor Shesterkin finished up in net with seven saves.
New York, which was eliminated from the playoffs, will finish in fifth in the NHL’s East division. It ended a strange week for the Rangers, who fired their president and general manager and were fined by the NHL.
“The last 10 days or so have been kind of crazy," said Zibanejad, who finished up with 24 goals and 26 assists. “We got the win and got to finish up the season in somewhat of a nice way.”
David Pastrnak scored his 200th career goal, Brad Marchand had his team-leading 28th, and Patrice Bergeron and Nick Ritchie also scored for the Bruins, who had earned at least a point in their previous six games (5-0-1). Tuukka Rask stopped 18 shots.
“They definitely came up hard and I felt like we weren't ready,” Pastrnak said. “We've got to learn and move on.”
Boston leads the New York Islanders by one point and can clinch third in the East by earning two points in its final two games. The Bruins host the Islanders on Monday night and visit Washington on Tuesday night.
Zibanejad tied it 2-2 with a wrister from the slot 5:01 after Pastrnak scored on a one-timer from the right circle 21 seconds into the third.
“It’s just perplexing how it all happened at once,” Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said of the Bruins falling apart.
Lafrenière cut in alone and slipped a backhander over Rask at 7:26. Kravtsov then one-timed in a shot in at 9:36.
Marchand’s power-play goal sliced it to 4-3 with 5:52 left in the third, but Zibanejad’s second of the game and 200th of his career made it 5-3. Bergeron scored with Rask pulled for an extra skater, but the Rangers held on.
“You're talking about an elite hockey player,” Rangers coach David Quinn said of Zibanejad. “To finish with 50 points after the start he had shows the type of player he is.”
Ritchie, voted the club’s Seventh Player Award by the fans for someone who “exceeded expectations,” tied it after Miller had moved New York ahead 6:21 into the second.
“I think we can learn from that,” Ritchie said. “You never give up in a hockey game or get complacent.”
Kinkaid was solid through two periods, stopping 27 shots — 18 in the second — and even had a little luck when Pastrnak fired a shot off the crossbar.
A WEEK TO FORGET
The Rangers closed their final week of the season with the firing of the team’s president and general manager, a night filled with fights against Washington in response to the Capitals’ Tom Wilson not being suspended and a $250,000 fine from the NHL for the club’s public criticism of the league’s head of player safety George Parros about Wilson’s punishment of only a fine for his actions during a melee on Monday.
Associate general manager Chris Drury became the new president and GM after owner James Dolan fired president John Davidson and GM Jeff Gorton on Wednesday.
“It's been difficult, but it was great to finish the way we did,” Quinn said. “It's exciting for us to get Chris's first win as a general manager.”
DECISION TO MAKE
The Bruins will have to decide who backs up No. 1 goalie Rask in the playoffs.
Rookie Jeremy Swayman has been outstanding, going 7-2 with a 1.44 goals-against-average in nine starts, and veteran Jarsolav Halak has playoff experience.
“It’s Tuukka first, we know that,” Cassidy said before the game. “Certainly, Swayman has done everything we’ve asked. A good problem to have when you have three capable goaltenders.”
NOTES: Pastrnak’s goal was his 20th, the fifth straight season he’s reached that mark. … Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich returned to the lineup after serving a one-game suspension for high-sticking Washington’s Anthony Mantha on Wednesday. … Cassidy said forward Ondrej Kase, out since Jan. 16 with an upper-body injury, had a good practice Friday with “a little more exertion” and that it “bodes well” for him possibly playing in one of the final two games.
Rangers: Training camp next season.
Bruins: Host the Islanders on Monday in their penultimate regular-season game.
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Ken Powtak, The Associated Press