Habs make it a long night for Rangers in Montreal
|Rangers forward Brian Boyle tries to put the puck past Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak on Saturday night at the Bell Centre. Halak made up for a poor performance six nights earlier in at Madison Square Garden by ending the game with a 32-save shutout.
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By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
The Rangers allowed four goals in the second period en route to a disappointing 6-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night at the Bell Centre.
Michael Cammalleri recorded a four-point game for the Canadiens, scoring twice and adding a pair of assists. In three games against the Rangers this season Cammalleri has scored six goals, including five in the two games played at the Bell Centre.
Goaltender Jaroslav Halak notched his third shutout of the season, stopping all 32 shots he faced. The Rangers were blanked for the second consecutive game, and for the fourth time in the last seven.
After an entertaining first period in which the two teams traded numerous scoring chances and the Canadiens grabbed a 1-0 lead, the game quickly unraveled for the Rangers in the second period.
Cammalleri scored his first goal of the game at 2:35, blistering a left-wing shot past the glove hand of Henrik Lundqvist
to put Montreal up 2-0. The play took shape in the neutral zone where Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto
intercepted a pass, but then was stripped of the puck by Montreal’s Jaroslav Spacek. The veteran blueliner skated ahead, fed the puck perfectly to Cammalleri, and the sniper finished the play off with a laser of a shot.
Two minutes later, strong work by Maxim Lapierre led to another goal for the Canadiens. LaPierre won a race with Dan Girardi
for the puck to negate a potential icing call against Montreal. Then, during the ensuing scramble in the Rangers crease, Lapierre batted the puck out of midair, off Lundqvist’s leg, and over the goal line for his third goal of the season at 4:37.
Buzzing with momentum, the Canadiens upped their advantage to 4-0 at the 6:17 mark of the second period. Cammalleri whipped a shot past Lundqvist after a strong forecheck by Montreal in the Rangers’ zone left the visitors out of position.
John Tortorella decided to give his star goalie the rest of the night off at this point as the Rangers head coach replaced Lundqvist with rookie Matt Zaba. Lundqvist allowed four goals on 15 shots, stopping only two of five shots in the middle stanza.
The appearance for Zaba marked the National Hockey League debut for the 26-year-old from Saskatchewan. He made his first save at 9:45 on a Mathieu Darche backhand attempt from in close. However, a minute after that he surrendered his first goal in the NHL.
With Aaron Voros in the penalty box for interference, Benoit Pouliot netted his 12th goal of the season -- and sixth in the past six games -- at 10:59. There was not much Zaba could have done, as Pouliot made a nifty deflection of Cammalleri’s pass while stationed in the low slot.
Zaba also surrendered a goal to Tomas Plekanec at 9:28 of the third period with the Canadiens skating on a two-man power play advantage. Zaba finished with 14 saves.
Former Rangers’ center Scott Gomez opened the scoring at the 9:05 mark of the first period. Lundqvist had made a string of big-time saves over the first six minutes of the contest -- with Tomas Plekanec, Max Pacioretty, and Cammalleri all robbed on great chances -- but there was little he could do as Gomez scored on a rebound in front.
Gomez started the scoring play by winning an offensive-zone faceoff, then finished it off by gaining position on Michal Rozsival
and converting the rebound of Spacek’s hard shot.
Halak, who had starred in Montreal’s 3-1 win Friday night in New Jersey, was extremely sharp. His two most important saves came when Montreal’s lead was still only 1-0. With four minutes to go in the first, Halak flashed a brilliant glove save on Chris Drury
’s one-time blast. And 1:05 into the second period he robbed Vinny Prospal
after a gorgeous move and backhand made by the veteran forward.
The shutout remained alive for Halak with some help from the iron behind him at 8:20 of the second when Enver Lisin’s shot clanged off the post. Halak then did his own work with 8:30 left in the game when he robbed Prospal again from point-blank range.
The Rangers last chance to deny Halak his shutout came with 30 seconds left on the clock. Artem Anisimov
drove a hard one-timer from left wing that handcuffed Halak, but bounced just to the side of the cage.
A return to New York is next for the Rangers, who host the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden on Monday night. They will be back at home to host the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday.
|Three star selections