By Steve Zipay
---- — BOSTON — After a 3-2 loss to the Bruins on Friday, a visibly ticked-off Alain Vigneault concluded his postgame news conference, walked a few steps down the corridor at TD Garden, muttered a curse and slammed a door behind him.
It was an unusual public display for the Rangers’ coach who has 26 games under his belt on Broadway, and a touch reminiscent of his predecessor, John Tortorella, who returns to Madison Square Garden on Saturday afternoon.
“We got exactly what we deserved,” Vigneault said before his exit. “We had too many guys with their ‘B’ game on the ice against a Stanley Cup finalist. We came in here with a lot on the line and should have been very motivated. We could’ve made this a real solid road trip instead of making it an OK road trip. Too many guys, the execution and compete level . . . we didn’t deserve to win and we didn’t.”
With a season-low 19 shots, the Rangers (13-13) crumbled in the third period despite holding a 2-1 lead after two periods, ending their road trip at 3-2.
And the tension will likely rise on Saturday when they face Tortorella, who now runs Vigneault’s former team. The Canucks are 13-9-5.
In Friday’s matinee, third-period goals by Patrice Bergeron at 1:35, on a shot that deflected off Dan Girardi, and Zdeno Chara’s slapper at 11:05 erased the one-goal lead that the Rangers had built on first-period scores by Rick Nash — his second in two games — and Ryan McDonagh’s sixth of the season just 1:22 apart.
In the past 101 games, the Rangers had always gained at least a point when leading after two periods. That streak ended.
“That second goal (Bergeron’s) really changed the momentum, put us on our heels,” said Henrik Lundqvist, who flung a crumpled paper cup at a locker room wall. “Just a tough bounce . . . after that it was tough for us to recover.”
As for Chara’s goal, Lundqvist, who made 25 saves, lamented: “Just made a bad move. I read his stick and thought he was going high and he fell down and kind of missed and it fooled me a bit.”
It was the first game here between the clubs since the Bruins, who lead the Eastern Conference with 36 points, eliminated the Rangers in last spring’s playoffs.
“We spent too much of the game in our zone,” McDonagh said. “Really couldn’t get any flow going with our lines and couldn’t pin them in their zone as much as they did to us. We needed to be stronger in our own end on those last two goals against.”
The power play, which had scored twice in the 5-2 victory over the Panthers on Wednesday night, was 0-for-5, and didn’t muster a shot on Tuukka Rask in the last three opportunities.
The Bruins came out with fire after Wednesday’s 6-1 loss to the Red Wings, a Thanksgiving Day practice and a players-only meeting. Brad Marchand converted a passing sequence from the right circle at 11:42 of the first period.
After Nash and McDonagh cashed in, “We probably got settled in at 2-1 and fooled ourselves,” said Brad Richards, “and they kept coming.”
Chara completed a “Gordie Howe hat trick” — a goal, an assist and a fight with Brian Boyle — when he scored after Marc Staal’s turnover.
“They were better than us,” Mats Zuccarello said. “We have to forget about it.”