The Rangers missed their first chance to secure the top seed in the Eastern Conference because they couldn't solve Tim Thomas on Sunday night.
Thomas gave up a goal to Marian Gaborik on the Rangers' second shot of the game, then stopped the next 32 as the Bruins clinched the Northeast Division with a 2-1 win at Madison Square Garden.
Thomas came up especially big in the third period, when the Rangers outshot the Bruins 19-3. They finished with a 34-21 edge in shots but saw their four-game winning streak snapped.
New York coach John Tortorella was satisfied with his team's effort, saying the Rangers will win their share of games if they play like this.
Indeed, this was a typical Rangers-Bruins game and what the Rangers will see in the playoffs. Remarkably, 17 of the last 21 games between the Original Six teams have been decided by one goal.
Dan Girardi's inability to clear the puck on a penalty kill led to Patrice Bergeron's tiebreaking goal at 11:52 of the second period.
Also, the Rangers power-play sputtered, going 0-for-3, including a short 5-on-3 early in the third period. New York had scored two power-play goals in each of its previous games.
But from our vantage point, the difference in the game came in the first period. The Rangers came out with a lot of energy, dominated puck possession and got the early goal at 4:33.
However, they couldn't get the second goal, managing only five shots in the first period, and that has been a problem on occasion throughout the season.
Of course, the law of averages wasn't on the Rangers' side. New York came into the game 3-0 against the Bruins this season and it's tough to sweep a good team.
The Rangers will face that same situation on Tuesday at Philadelphia, which is 0-5 against the Rangers and has dropped seven straight in the series.
New York still has a five-point lead over the Penguins and needs only one point over the final three games to lock up the top seed in East, so there is some breathing room. But the Rangers have two tough games coming up -- they are at Pittsburgh on Thursday - which is why it would have been nice to clinch the No. 1 seed on Sunday.
As for the Bruins, they are reminding everyone that they are still the Cup champions. Pittsburgh has all the firepower, but the road to the Cup may still go through Boston, which has righted the ship -- 7-1-1 in its last nine -- after a rough stretch.
And on Sunday, Thomas displayed the form that enabled him to win the Conn Smythe Trophy last season.
Gaborik joined Jean Ratelle and Mike Gartner as the only Rangers will multiple 40-goal seasons.