Boston, MA – Johnny Boychuk celebrated his 29th birthday in style with a third-period goal and the Boston Bruins beat the New York Rangers, 3-1, in the start of the abbreviated 48-game schedule for both teams.
Milan Lucic and Daniel Paille also scored while Tuukka Rask stopped 20 shots for the Bruins, who are coming off the Northeast Division title. Boston was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in seven games by Washington.
"I liked our effort tonight," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "Again, couldn't be happier because I like the effort that we gave tonight. The guys seemed to be pretty focused. I thought we had some real good plays and good decisions."
Reigning Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist made 31 saves in defeat.
Brad Richards scored the lone goal for the Rangers, who finished atop the Eastern Conference standings last season, but were beaten by New Jersey in six games in the conference finals.
Rick Nash, a new addition to the Rangers in the offseason, had an assist.
"We had a slow start," Nash admitted. "The first period was a bit rusty, but after that I thought we came back and played hard, but we have to finish and score goals."
Ahead 2-1, the Bruins killed of a two-man advantage for the Rangers early in the third period, and were able to go on the power play thanks to Nash's hooking penalty. Lundqvist made a highlight reel save during Boston's man- advantage, diving across the crease to make a glove stop on a shot from David Krejci from the bottom of the right circle. The puck may have crossed the goal line, but it was in Lundqvist's glove and replays were inconclusive, and the no-goal ruling remained.
Boychuk scored on a shot from above the right circle at 8:13 of the third period. The puck deflected off Richards and past Lundqvist.
The Bruins gained the early upperhand in the first game for the teams since the end of the NHL lockout.
Boston's Tyler Seguin was denied on a breakaway midway through the first period, but the Bruins went in front with 5:46 left in the same stanza thanks to Lucic's tally. Lundqvist stopped Krejci's blast from above the right circle, but Lucic put in the rebound.
Paille scored off a tip-in at 8:20 of the middle period for a 2-0 margin. The Bruins used a 3-on-2 rush to gain pressure, and Gregory Campbell's shot from above the right circle was redirected off Lundqvist, and the puck trickled across the goal line.
Richards cut the deficit in half 4 1/2 minutes later when his wrist shot from the slot made it through traffic in front of Rask.
Fisticuffs ensued in the second with two fights three seconds apart. The first one occurred at 13:35 when New York's Mike Rupp and Boston's Shawn Thornton were engaged in a lengthy battle with Rupp taken down to the ice. Then, the Rangers' Stu Bickel and Campbell threw hefty punches in a shorter bout before it was broken apart ... This marked the fifth straight season the Rangers opened the season on the road ... The Bruins moved to 2-7-1 in their last 10 season openers ... Boston beat the Rangers for the fourth time in the last 13 meetings. New York had its four-game winning streak at TD Garden broken ... Lundqvist has started in 25 consecutive games against Boston, dating back to Jan. 13, 2007.