NEW YORK -- The long-awaited return of forward Rick Nash wasn't enough for the New York Rangers to overcome a superb performance by Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.
Rask tied a career high with 43 saves, including a stop on a first-period penalty shot, and Boston beat New York 2-1 Tuesday night before 18,006 at Madison Square Garden.
"Tuukka stood tall for us," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "When you don't get many shots, you get cold and you stand there. But he just felt it tonight. He was poised."
Nash played his first game since suffering a concussion Oct. 8 at San Jose. He missed 17 games due to the injury. In his absence, the Rangers (10-11-0) went 9-8-0, and they scored a total of three goals in the last three games he missed.
Prior to the concussion, Nash registered three assists in three games. The left winger led New York with 21 goals in the truncated 2012-13 season.
Nash skated on a line with center Brad Richards and right winger Ryan Callahan.
"I felt OK," said Nash, who had five shots in 17:55 of ice time. "I was a little slow making plays. I had a couple of chances when I could've passed it, but I just had my head down.
"But I think the timing and the speed ... that will come. The first couple of shifts it was tough, but I found my game and found some chances on offense."
Rask is now 5-1-1 in his past seven starts for Boston (14-6-1), showing no rust playing in his second game in as many nights. Rask stopped 24 shots in the Bruins' 4-1 road win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night.
"I feel better in the second night," Rask said. "I like to face more shots than less, obviously. I felt fine after (Monday's) game."
Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist wasn't tested nearly as much Rask. He stopped 20 Boston shots.
Richards had the best chance to tie the game, but his shot off a Rask rebound hit the post with just over 14 minutes to play in the game.
Rask set the tone for his big night early in the first period. Boston defenseman Johnny Boychuk took down Chris Kreider as the New York left winger skated in alone on Rask at 6:16 of the first. The officials awarded Kreider a penalty shot, but Rask made a kick save on the wrist shot.
"I don't know if it was momentum-changer," Rask said of his penalty-shot save, "but we felt we survived the first period.
Boston went ahead 1-0 at 4:58 of the second period on left winger Shawn Thornton's third goal of the season. Thornton picked up a loose puck in front of the Rangers bench and fired a wrist shot over Lundqvist's left shoulder from the right faceoff circle.
Left winger Daniel Paille's short-handed goal, a backhander, gave Boston a 2-0 edge at 11:30 of the second. The Rangers struck back quickly on the power play, receiving a goal from center Derick Brassard just 1:01 after Paille's goal.
Prior to the Rangers' power-play goal, their 13th of the season, the Bruins successfully killed off 33 consecutive penalties over nine-plus games. The last power-play goal scored against Boston before Brassard's was by the Pittsburgh Penguins on Oct. 30.
Nash's return seemed to inspire the Rangers, as they controlled the first period, outshooting Boston 16-6. His first solid scoring chance came with just over two minutes left in the opening period when his snap shot from inside the left circle was turned away by Rask.
NOTES: Boston D Dennis Seidenberg left the ice with an undisclosed injury less than five minutes into the game and didn't return, leaving the Bruins with just five defensemen for the third time in a game this season. .. Bruins C Patrice Bergeron played in his 600th NHL game. ... Rangers RW Derek Dorsett received nine minutes in penalties, all in the first two periods, bringing his season-total to 82 minutes, the most in the NHL. ... Bruins G Tuukka Rask's goals-against average of 1.64 entering the game was the third lowest in the league behind the 1.24 mark of the Los Angeles Kings' Ben Scrivens and the 1.25 GAA of the Minnesota Wild's Josh Harding. ... Rangers C Derek Stepan has four goals and five assists in his past 10 games. ... Boston D Zdeno Chara logged 31:27 of ice time, his high this season. ... The Rangers and Bruins were separated by one goal in 20 of their past 25 meetings.