Montreal Canadians- 1, New York Rangers- 0
The Rangers enter Montreal with second place in the Metropolitan Division and home ice in the 1st round assured. Finally, the team could finally rest some players with the playoffs coming next week. In net, backup goaltender Cam Talbot got the nod, giving Henrik Lundqvist a well-deserved rest. Also, Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi were out of the lineup, as Justin Falk and Daniel Carcillo were removed from the healthy scratch list. Falk hadn’t played since December, so it was interesting to see if any rust showed in his play.
To start the game, head coach Alain Vigneault put the line of Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello, and Benoit Pouliot with Anton Stralman and Marc Staal on defense for the opening faceoff. At puck drop, the Canadians tried to use their speed to impose their will on the Blueshirts. Montreal did not register a shot on goal till 3:30 minutes into the period. The first penalty was on Defenseman Mike Weaver for tripping rad Richards. Thus, the Rangers saw their first power play. They had good puck movement and were able to sustain pressure throughout the advantage. Unfortunately, they could not solve Carey Price, and stopped all four shots faced. Much of the period saw back and forth play between the two teams. However, the Rangers were able to penetrate the vibrant Canadians and got shots in close on Price. Despite not having McDonagh or Girardi on the ice, the team looked unaffected by their absence. They were able to hold their own. We saw the game’s first fight between Derick Dorsett and Francis Boullion after a low, hard check on David Desharnais. At first Montreal’s PK Subban came in to say excuse me. But glided past as Dorsett and Boullion continued the conversation. After the dust settled, Montreal received their first power play. Fortunately, Talbot and the Rangers penalty kill units stood tall, allowing only one shot. The period ended scoreless, with New York out shooting Montreal 14-5. Both teams couldn’t capitalize on their power play chances. The team looked good. Talbot was able to swat away Montreal’s chances and stifled the Canadians heading into the locker room. .
As the 2nd started, both teams looked to capitalize on their chances. After mot much action to start the period, Monreal’s Max Pacioretty had the first shot on goal. This seemed to spark the Canadian’s offense for a brief moment. Finally, at 3:22, Derick Brassard was called for tripping on Alexei Emelin in front of the Canadian’s goal. Montreal saw its second power play of the game. After some good chances, Talbot stood tall and was able to keep the puck out of the net. Another penalty was nullified and the scoreboard still read 0. However, this seemed to kick-start the goal scoring chances. Both goalies were active, stopping all shots faced. Again, the 4th line of Brian Boyle, Derick Brassard, and Derek Dorsett made an appearance and kept pressure on Price. At 11:41, a collision between Daniel Carcillo and Brendan Gallagher caused the young Canadian to visit the dressing room. Fortunately, no one was hurt on the play and he returned to the Montreal bench. As the period continued, Montreal started taking over the period. The Canadians persistence almost paid off a couple of times in front of Talbot. At times, Rangers defense flopped in front of their net, trying desperately to keep the puck out. After a scrum in Montreal’s corner, Subban and New York’s Jesper Fast saw the penalty box. Both teams skated four on four hockey for two minutes. Near the end of both penalties, Rick Nash and Raphael Diaz almost connected for a goal. Diaz let go a slap shot that beat Price. After review though, there was no goal. The replay showed the puck hit two posts, but never crossed the goal line. After Derek Stepan‘s wrist shot, another scrum ensued as Carcillo chopped at Price after he held the puck. Montreal was penalized with a cross check from Alexei Emelin. The Rangers saw their second power play. After a glove save from Price, the man advantage was lost. The period came to an end with the game still scoreless. New York out shot their opponent again 16-11. Both teams came alive this period. Despite being out shot, it seemed Montreal was able to get the crowd on their side, especially in the last 10 minutes. However, both teams were shutout heading back into the locker room.
With Montreal needing the win for home ice, the Canadians came out with desperation. Talbot almost gave up a goal after handling the puck behind his net. Fortunately, he was able to recover and kept the puck out. At the 15 minute mark, Pouliot threw down Emelin to the ice after he was being held up. Both players received penalties, and another four on four hockey was played. Both teams had good looks. However, the Canadians started buzzing around Talbot. The Rangers defense was up for the task, as several shots were blocked and never got through. Another penalty was blown on Montreal, as Francis Bouillon was called for tripping on Zuccarello. The Rangers had their 3rd power play of the game. For a majority of the advantage, the team could not setup and not enough of presence in front of Price. After two shots, the Canadians killed the penalty. As the game wore on, you could feel the crowd get behind their team. Unfortunately, the Rangers’ Carl Hagelin was called for a questionable cross check. Montreal found themselves with their 3rd power play of the game. After some questionable decisions and inability to penetrate the offensive zone by the Canadians, the Rangers killed the advantage. The last five minutes had you on the edge of your seat. After some giveaways from the Rangers, the Canadians had good scoring chances on Talbot led by the young Gallagher. The period ended with both teams unable to break the other’s strong goalie play. New York, again, out shot Montreal 10-8. Overtime at the Belle Centre.
At the start, the Rangers saw much of the play in their own end. A breakaway opportunity by Montreal’s Brian Gionta stopped by Diaz. However, a penalty shot was awarded. Gionta finally broke through Talbot’s wall, with a nice backhand, forehand, backhand goal. The game was decided 1-0 and the Rangers finished with 96 points for the regular season.