Boston, MA (SportsNetwork.com) - Milan Lucic's two first-period goals set the tone, and the Boston Bruins spoiled Henrik Lundqvist's return to the ice with a 4-2 victory over the New York Rangers.
Lundqvist, sidelined for New York's last 25 games by a vascular injury caused by being struck in the throat by a puck, appeared rusty in his first game action since Feb. 2. The 2012 Vezina Award recipient allowed three first- period goals -- two to Lucic and one to Carl Soderberg -- before settling down to make 26 saves.
Soderberg added an assist and Reilly Smith also scored in an important result for Boston, fighting for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and having lost a season-high six straight coming in.
About the only negative for the Bruins on the day was having goaltender Tuukka Rask exit 10 seconds into the second period due to dehydration. He stopped all 14 Ranger shots before departing, with Niklas Svedberg recording 16 saves in relief.
"It speaks to the way the team plays. It doesn't matter what guys are playing," Bruins defenseman Torey Krug remarked. "If we play the same way then we're going to get results."
Rick Nash netted his 40th goal of the season for New York and Matt Hunwick tallied late in the loss, which halted a six-game road winning streak for the Metropolitan Division-leading Rangers.
Lundqvist's comeback got off to an ominous beginning, as a centering pass from Patrice Bergeron caromed off a charging Lucic's right skate and bounced over the New York netminder just 1:41 into the contest. Lucic was initially ruled to have kicked in the puck, but the goal was allowed upon review.
"It happened so fast. I just tried to stop the puck with my foot and didn't try to kick it," said Lucic of the play. "Thankfully the call went our way."
No such controversy existed over Lucic's second of the day. The physical wing rifled a shot under Lundqvist's arm after taking in a feed from Ryan Spooner during a Bruins' counterattack, giving Boston a 2-0 lead midway through the first period.
Soderberg made it a three-goal margin with 5:33 left in the opening frame, outracing the Ranger defense for a loose puck and beating Lundqvist all alone from in close.
"Obviously not the start I was looking for, or the team, this game," Lundqvist said. "The first period was just tough, timing-wise, and I felt better as the game went on."
Boston kept up the pressure after the intermission. Lundqvist was able to stop Loui Eriksson on a 3-on-2 rush, but Smith followed up to knock in the rebound for a 4-0 advantage with less than six minutes elapsed in the middle session.
Nash produced New York's lone highlight of the afternoon with 3:11 to go in the second, tucking in a well-placed feed from Dominic Moore to get the Rangers on the board.
Hunwick's successful slap shot through traffic with 22.1 seconds left to play closed out the scoring.
Including three defeats during the 2013 Eastern Conference semifinals, the Rangers have now lost in six consecutive visits to TD Garden ... Nash reached the 40-goal mark for the third time in his career and first since 2008-09 while with Columbus. He's the first Ranger to achieve the feat since Marian Gaborik in 2011-12 ... The Bruins have now notched a point in eight straight home games (5-0-3) ... Bergeron's assist on Lucic's first goal extended his point streak to five games ... Boston moved to 9-2-4 this season when wearing its alternate jerseys.