Rangers' rally falls short at Montreal
After almost saving point, Blueshirts take lesson from 3-2 loss to Canadiens
|Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky fires a shot at Montreal goaltender Carey Price, who was able to make the stop for one of his 31 saves on the night.
• MORE PHOTOS
• BOX SCORE | PHOTOS | GAME CENTER
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
Despite a sensational -- and fiery -- 38-save effort from Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers could not overcome their own first-period breakdowns and dropped a 3-2 decision to the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on Saturday night.
The loss was the Blueshirts’ second this week to Montreal. They also were defeated by the Canadiens 2-1 Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. With its victory, Montreal managed to move within two points of the Rangers for sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
“I just thought we were really slow the first two periods,” said Rangers head coach John Tortorella. “I’m not sure why. We just were. But Hank gave us a chance, and in that third period we found our legs, but just couldn’t get that tying goal.”
Trailing 3-1 in the third period, the Rangers closed to within a goal when Mats Zuccarello scored his second of the season at 6:57. Camped at the post Zuccarello converted a pass from Derek Stepan which originated from behind the cage to cut the Rangers’ deficit to 3-2.
Moments later, Montreal goaltender Carey Price made big stops on Brandon Dubinsky and Marian Gaborik from point-blank range. And Brian Boyle chipped an in-tight shot off the crossbar with 9:05 left to play.
With four minutes left on the clock, Price made two more game-saving stops on Ruslan Fedotenko and Wojtek Wolski.
And with 65 seconds remaining in regulation, the Rangers were awarded a power play when Hal Gill tripped Boyle. But Price made two more saves -- he stopped 20 of 21 shots in the third period -- and the Rangers’ surge fell short.
|Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist was outstanding over the final two periods at the Bell Centre, as he stopped all 25 Montreal shots to keep the Blueshirts in the game. He finished the game with 38 saves.
• MORE PHOTOS
After a very promising start, the first period unraveled quickly for the Rangers, as the Canadiens scored three goals in a span of 2:41, turning a 1-0 Rangers advantage into a 3-1 deficit for the visitors.
Boyle was rewarded for not giving up on a loose puck in Price’s crease, after Brandon Prust had been stopped twice by the Canadiens netminder, to open the scoring at 6:58. Boyle nudged the loose disc just inside the post for his 15th goal of the season -- and first in eight games.
Less than a minute later, Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban – who had been a subject of controversy after taking down Dubinsky in Tuesday’s contest at The Garden -- was penalized for slashing Dubinsky. However, instead of providing the Rangers more momentum at this point of the game, the Canadiens used a dynamic penalty kill that held the visitors without a shot to begin turning the period in their favor.
When Dubinsky was whistled for roughing Subban at 12:10 of the first, Montreal capitalized on the power play to tie the game. Roman Hamrlik fired a slap shot from just inside the blueline that deflected off a Ranger in front, with the puck dipping under Lundqvist at 13:19.
“I’m disappointed, obviously, because you don’t want to put your team in that position by taking a penalty there,” Dubinsky said of his penalty. “I have to make sure to focus and stay disciplined in those situations, and understand what type of guy that guy is.”
Moments later Michael Sauer was penalized for tripping, and again the Canadiens took advantage by scoring a power play goal at 14:50. This time Tomas Plekanec roofed his 14th into a wide-open net after a gorgeous cross-ice slap pass from Subban stationed at the left point.
Andrei Kostitsyn made it 3-1 in favor of the Canadiens at 16:03 when he hammered a slap shot past a helpless Lundqvist after the puck shot out from behind the net and into the slot where he was left all alone.
“We didn’t play the way we needed to,” said Dubinsky. “We just didn’t play the way we normally do, with the forecheck and the energy we normally have. By the time we got it we were down two goals and it’s hard coming back from that in this league.”
Playing in his first game as a Ranger, Kris Newbury tried to ignite his teammates by fighting Travis Moen on the ensuing faceoff, but the bout did not produce any further positive results in the period, and the Rangers headed into the first intermission trailing by two goals.
Two statistics that were most definitely indicative of Montreal’s seizing control of the opening period were shots on goal and faceoffs won. In the first period the Canadiens outshot the Rangers 16-6, and won 13 of 16 faceoffs.
|Rangers captain Chris Drury parks in front of Habs goaltender Carey Price as he looks for a pass. The Blueshirts didn't get their best scoring chances until the third period, when they outshot Montreal 21-12.
• MORE PHOTOS
Things really heated up on the ice, though, late in the second, and Lundqvist threw himself, literally and figuratively, right into the mix. Extremely upset after Max Pacioretty crashed into him and knocked him into the back of the net on a rush with 2:13 to play in the middle period, Lundqvist pounced on top of Pacioretty and began throwing punches with his right hand.
Players from both sides jumped into the wild melee, and after a long scrum Lundqvist eventually emerged without his facemask on. Known for his intense, though very calm, demeanor on the ice, Lundqvist clearly had had enough of being on the receiving end of physical play. At the same time, he showed his teammates that he had far from quit on this game.
“I just felt like he didn’t try and stop at all,” said Lundqvist. “Usually I stay pretty calm, but it’s kind of hard to stay calm in this building because your emotions fly, especially when he doesn’t stop. It just happened.”
Tortorella had no issues with what his goalie did.
“I loved Hank doing that,” said Tortorella. “I loved his emotion.”
The Rangers actually emerged from the scrum with a power play, though they failed to take advantage. And at the buzzer signaling an end to the second period, Steve Eminger, Boyle, and Sauer took part in another battle along the boards in the Canadiens zone.
After falling short on Saturday, the Rangers must regroup quickly as they will host the Eastern Conference-leading Flyers Sunday night at MSG.
“We’ve got a game (Sunday) and we’ve got to build off what we did in the third (on Saturday), while also realizing that we can’t have the same kind of start,” said Dubinsky.