Boston’s Dennis Seidenberg, far left, hooks New York’s Rick Nash (61) as he skates in on Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask in the third period of Saturday night’s game.
Tuukka Rask stopped 20 shots for Boston in his first game after taking over for two-time Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas, and the Bruins beat the New York Rangers 3-1 in the lockout-delayed season opener on Saturday night.
Milan Lucic and Daniel Paille scored for Boston, which won the Northeast Division last year before losing in the first round of the playoffs. Rask backed up Thomas during the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup run and inherited the job when the enigmatic goalie decided to take a year off to rest.
Brad Richards scored for the Rangers on an assist from Rick Nash, the former Columbus star who was New York’s biggest acquisition over the summer. Henrik Lundqvist made 31 saves for the Rangers, who finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference last season but lost in the conference finals to the New Jersey Devils.
Taking the ice 3½ months late because of the lockout that shortened the season to 48 games, the teams played in front of a sold-out crowd that was given free concessions and T-shirts and an apology from Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs for keeping the game away.
“I think that we’ve done damage,” he said in a pregame news conference. “We did hurt the game. We didn’t just hurt Boston; we hurt the game of hockey.”
Both teams had short shifts throughout the game, perhaps as a result of the shortened, one-week training camps that may not have been enough to get them ready for even a truncated season. But the Bruins, who had nine players skate in Europe during the lockout — among the most of any NHL team — seemed to have more energy at the beginning and didn’t seem to tire as quickly as the defending Atlantic Division champions.
Boston scored first 14:14 into the season when Lundqvist, the reigning Vezina winner, stopped a shot by David Krejci but left the rebound where Lucic could knock it back in. Paille tipped Gregory Campbell’s shot past Lundqvist midway through the second period to make it 2-0.
The Rangers made it a one-goal game at 12:50 of the second on Richards’ goal. They had a chance to tie it when Lucic was sent off for boarding after sending Carl Hagelin face-first into the glass; 30 seconds later, Zdeno Chara was caught for hooking when he waterskied to the net behind Nash and prevented him from getting a shot off.
But the Rangers managed just two shots on the 90-second 5-on-3, and just 10 seconds after Lucic returned Nash drew a hooking penalty of his own.
The Bruins seemed to make it 3-1 when Krejci shot at an open net, lighting the spotlight that signals a Boston goal. But Lundqvist reached back and grabbed the puck — perhaps after it crossed the line; video was inconclusive.
Boston did take a two-goal lead on Johnny Boychuk celebrated his 29th birthday with a goal on a wrist shot from the right circle.
Notes: There were a handful of fights, including one between Mike Rupp and Shawn Thornton in the second period. ... The Bruins were 32-0 last season when leading after two periods. ... The Rangers pulled Lundqvist for the first time with 2:39 left but wound up getting a too many men on the ice penalty in the final minute.
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