Bruins take down Rangers, 3-1

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Bruins take down Rangers, 3-1

BOSTON -- The Bruins opened the shortened season with a 3-1 win over the New York Rangers on Saturday night at the TD Garden.

Tuukka Rask made 20 saves in his first game without Tim Thomas in the equation, while Boston was able to put 34 shots on goal and beat Henrik Lundqvist three times.

The Bruins saw their first goal of the season with 5:46 left in the first period, as Milan Lucic -- who was later ejected in the third period because of a game misconduct -- put home a juicy rebound in the slot as he skated hard to the net. Lundqvist kicked out a David Krejci shot from the right boards, and Lucic beat a Rangers defenseman to the loose puck and put it into the open net for the 1-0 lead.

Daniel Paille gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead midway through the second period, after he re-directed a Greg Campbell snap shot from the right boards. Paille was cutting in front of the net and got a piece of the puck that just snuck by Lundqvist.

The Rangers cut the lead to 2-1 when Brad Richards beat Rask upstairs with a wrist shot from the right point. Richards was originally trying to send a pass through the slot, down to Rick Nash, but Patrice Bergeron blocked that attempt. The puck came right back out to Richards, who quickly wristed it past a screened Rask, with 7:10 left in the second period.

Patrice Bergeron gave the B's a 3-1 lead midway through the third period after he ever-so-slightly knocked down a high Johnny Boychuk shot from the right point. Boychuk took a clean Bergeron faceoff win and let it go. Boychuk was actually credited with the goal, but it looked to have been tipped by Bergeron before getting under Lundqvist's glove and in the net.

GOLD STAR: Milan Lucic didnt want to dwell on it too much, but it was clear that No. 17 was highly motivated by the many people questioning whether his conditioning was up to par to start the season. The Bruins power forward scored the first goal of the game to get things rolling for the Black and Gold, and was a consistent physical presence for the Bs while doling out a team-high four hits. The snarl in Lucics game was evident when he get onto a fracas with Mike Rupp and Ryan McDonagh with less than six minutes to go in the third period, and was bounced from the game with a 10-minute misconduct when he ignored officials directing him to get off the ice. The Bruins can only hope that Lucic plays with that kind of an edge all season.

BLACK EYE: Where was the big Rangers debut from Rick Nash that everybody was talking about? He finished with two shots on net and picked up an assist on Brad Richards second period goal, but he was really a non-factor in the proceedings with Zdeno Chara draped all over him. The only time he got the better of the 6-foot-9 defensive stopper was when he was able to draw a hooking penalty on Chara while driving straight to the net. There wasnt nearly enough NorthSouth play out of Nash against the Bruins on Saturday night, however, and the franchise power forward is going to find himself answering a lot more questions now than he ever would have in Columbus after such an underwhelming showing.

HONORABLE MENTION: Patrice Bergeron put together a typical game for the Selke Trophy winner: a team-high five shots on net, a face-off win and screen on Johnny Boychuks insurance goal in the third period and won 12-of-17 draws in typical machine-like fashion. Bergeron also gets the hockey tough award for the night after taking a puck in the face during the first few minutes of the game, and not missing a shift despite a nice little gash around his mouth following the game. Bergeron finished second only to Chris Kelly among Bs forwards with his 17:48 of ice time.

TURNING POINT: The Rangers looked like they were gathering a foothold when Brad Richards snapped home a shot from the high slot to make it a 2-1 game in the second period. But thats when the Bs energy line got involved and wrestled back the momentum. Shawn Thornton dropped the gloves and bloodied Mike Rupp and then Gregory Campbell took down Stu Bickel on the next two face-offs, and then the pumped Bs teammates responded with five dominant shifts to win back the momentum. The sequence just goes to show how vital a fully functional fourth line is to the Bruins fate this season.

BY THE NUMBERS: 0-for-7 the Bruins impressed with their five-on-five play and their penalty kill, but some things dont change and they finished fruitless on the man advantage.

QUOTE TO NOTE: I give credit to the guys, obviously the guys that went over to Europe and played were playing at a high level and doing a good job. But I give credit to the guys who didnt. I think a lot of guys out there tonight didnt look out of place and I thought the game was good, professional. The guys were acting like professionals even during the frustrating time of not playing amid the lockout. Andrew Ference on not being able to tell the difference between players that went to Europe or those that skated at home during the lockout.

Joe Haggerty contributed portions of this column.

Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

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Patriots-Steelers injury report: Seven Pats listed as questionable

FOXBORO -- The Patriots will head into Sunday's AFC title game with seven players listed as questionable, including three receivers. 

Danny Amendola, Malcolm Mitchell and Chris Hogan have all been limited in practices this week due to their injuries. Amendola has been dealing with an ankle issue since a Week 13 win over the Rams, while Mitchell has not played since injuring his knee in Week 16 against the Jets. Hogan suffered a thigh injury against the Texans and left the game in the third quarter.

Both Hogan and Mitchell indicated this week that they were moving in the right direction in terms of their recoveries. One would think that the Patriots would need at least one, if not both, to help stress the back end of the Steelers secondary this weekend.

Hogan has been the team's most consistent down-the-field threat this season, averaging a whopping 17.9 yards per catch during the regular season. Against the Texans, before his injury, he reeled in four passes for 95 yards. 

Mitchell, meanwhile, had a very productive second half of his rookie season before he was hurt. He compiled 25 catches for 306 yards between Weeks 11 and 16, establishing himself as one of Tom Brady's go-to targets. 

The overall health of the Patriots receiving corps -- which will also include Julian Edelman and Michael Floyd -- will bear watching when the Patriots and Steelers kick off in two days.

The injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Steelers game:

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

QUESTIONABLE
WR Danny Amendola (ankle)
TE Martellus Bennett (knee)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
LB Dont'a Hightower (shoulder)
WR Chris Hogan (thigh)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee)
DL Jabaal Sheard (knee)

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

QUESTIONABLE
TE Ladarius Green (concussion/illness)
LB James Harrison (shoulder/triceps)
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (concussion)

NOT LISTED
RB Le'Veon Bell (not injury related)
K Chris Boswell (illness)
LB Anthony Chickillo (ankle)
S Sean Davis (shoulder)
C B.J. Finney (illness)
WR Darrius Heyward-Bay (illness)
DE Ricardo Mathews (ankle)
QB Zach Mettenberger (illness)
S Michael Mitchell (not injury related)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (not injury related)
LB Vince Williams (shoulder)