Bryan Berard and Joe Thornton scored late in the second period yesterday to spark the Boston Bruins' 4-1 win over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. The victory was Boston's third straight, all within four days.

"That's where our depth comes into play," said goaltender John Grahame, who made 23 saves.

The Bruins are looking forward to some rest.

"We'll all sleep pretty well tonight," Thornton said. "We're all a little tired, but this feels good."

Bruins Coach Robbie Ftorek reached all the way down the bench.

"We were able to roll four lines, which was really helpful," Ftorek said. "That was really helpful especially with two games in two days."

The Eastern Conference-leading Bruins also got third-period goals from Ivan Huml and Marty McInnis.

Mark Messier scored for New York, which has lost three straight. He was credited with a power-play score on an own-goal by Bruins defensemen Nick Boynton.

Messier unloaded a shot on Grahame, who made the initial stop. Boynton knocked the puck into his own net when he tried to clear the rebound at 7 minutes 32 seconds.

"We missed some opportunities to make it a two-goal lead," Messier said. "This is a tough loss."

The Rangers squandered a chance in the second period when they failed to score on a 5-on-3 power-play advantage.

"A 5-on-3 is a momentum changer one way or another," Rangers Coach Bryan Trottier said. "If we pumped one home there, it sure would have helped us."

After the Rangers failed to capitalize, Berard and Thornton went to work.

Berard scored from the left circle at 16:12, making Rangers goalie Dan Blackburn pay for a poor clear. Blackburn awkwardly cleared the puck right to Berard.

Thornton gave Boston a 2-1 lead with 1:44 remaining with an unassisted goal. The Rangers' Rem Murray knocked the puck off the stick of Boston's Glen Murray deep in the New York zone. It bounced right to Thornton, who slammed it home from the slot.

* OILERS 3, THRASHERS 0: Tommy Salo stopped 15 shots for his third shutout in 10 games as visiting Edmonton continued its stifling defensive play.

Jiri Dopita, Ethan Moreau and Anson Carter scored for the Oilers, who improved to 10-2-1 in their last 13 games. They have allowed just 18 goals in that span, and have limited opponents to two or fewer goals in 10 of the 13.

The shutout was the 33rd of Salo's career, and third of the season. He faced very few serious scoring chances against Atlanta, which went 0 for 6 on the power play in getting shut out for the third time. The Thrashers also set a season low for shots.

Atlanta, which had scored 27 goals in its previous six games, are .500 (7-7-0-2) in their last 16 games after starting the season 0-8-1-1.

Byron Dafoe played one of his best games since signing with the Thrashers, but still showed some rust.

After a scoreless first period, Dopita put Edmonton ahead with his first goal of the season at 3:19 of the second when he flipped a shot that sneaked between Dafoe's right pad and the post.

Rangers right wing Radek Dvorak fires a shot on Bruins goaltender John Grahame. "We'll all sleep pretty well tonight," Boston center Joe Thornton said. "We're all a little tired, but this feels good."