Stepan lifts Rangers over Bruins

Derek Stepan scored the winner in the third 3 win over the Boston Bruins in a fought battle between the top two teams in the Eastern Conference.

Marian Gaborik, Ruslan Fedotenko and Carl Hagelin all scored for the Rangers, who have won four of their last five. Henrik Lundqvist turned aside 30 shots to pick up his 31st win of the season.

The win now pushes the Rangers to the top spot in the NHL with 91 points, one ahead of idle Vancouver and two ahead of Detroit, which hosts Chicago on Sunday.

Jordan Caron had a goal and an assist while David Krejci and Benoit Pouliot each lit the lamp for the Bruins, who have dropped three of four but still hold the top spot in the Northeast Division and sit second in the conference. Tim Thomas was charged with all four goals on just 17 shots.

With the score tied at 2-2, the Rangers took the lead 3:14 into the third. Brad Richards had the puck behind the right side of the net, and tried to bank it in off Thomas, but the goaltender kept it out. Dennis Seidenberg then cleared it away off the backboard, but it went right to Gaborik at the left side of the net and he snapped it home.

Boston, though, tied the contest at the 11:42 mark on a rush play. Tyler Seguin brought the puck in up the middle and passed it over to the left side for Milan Lucic, who snapped a pass back the other way. The puck deflected off a Rangers' stick, but it went right to Krejci and he buried it.

However, the Rangers answered 39 seconds later for a 4-3 advantage. Michael Del Zotto jumped up in the play and took a pass into the Boston zone. From the low left circle he passed it back to Stepan, whose heavy wrister from the top of the left circle hit off the left shoulder of Thomas and went in.

Boston pulled Thomas with just over a minute to play, but the Rangers did a good job of keeping the zone clear and limited Boston's chances to hang on for the win.

The Rangers struck 5:05 into the game when Anton Stralman stopped at the top of the left circle and fired a wrister that Fedotenko tipped past Thomas.

Just 70 seconds later, New York made it a 2-0 game as Hagelin chased down a dump towards the right of the net and skated to the left side. He then centered the puck and it hit off a Boston player before sliding into the net.

Boston called a timeout after that goal in order to regroup and it worked as the team scored less than two minutes later.

Stralman attempted a pass up through the circle in his own zone instead of wrapping it around the boards and Caron deflected it with his stick. The puck then went to the slot and Pouliot one-timed it home.

The teams went to the locker room with 2:53 to play in the first period after a pane of glass cracked. After the intermission, the teams played the rest of the period and then the goalies switched sides.

The Bruins were able to tie the game 100 seconds into the middle stanza as Caron intercepted a pass near mid-ice, skated to the top of the right circle and blew a slap shot past Lundqvist.

Game Notes

Boston plays in Toronto on Tuesday...The Rangers hit the road for the next three games starting Tuesday in New Jersey...The Rangers have won three straight over the Bruins, including all three meetings this season...There were three fights in the game, all in the first period.