Wednesday night promised to be an entertaining game with the two top teams in the Eastern Conference. The Montreal Canadiens visited Broadway to face the Rangers, in a matchup starring two of the very best goaltenders in the League; Carey Price and Henrik Lundqvist.
Image Credit: HockeyStats.ca
The game however did not live up to its billing of a tight competitive contest, as the Habs took control early, and never really let their opponents back in it.
Also, neither of the two star goaltenders would manage to finish the game in their respective goal.
The Rangers have been plagued with terrible starts on home ice this season. That continued on Wednesday night, when Sven Andrighetto found a rebound in the slot, and beat Lundqvist with a backhander to open the scoring.
It was Andrighetto's first of the season, in only his second outing since being called up.
With Brendan Gallagher out of action, Michel Therrien had the unfortunate task of figuring out who to replace him with on the top line. Luckily for him, the return of Devante Smith-Pelly from his own injury provided him an option, and Smith-Pelly ran with the opportunity. Doing his best Gallagher impersonation, he went to the net and banged home a great centring pass from Max Pacioretty to make it 2-0 early in the second.
On their heels at that point, New York began to put on some pressure in the second, but that wasn't the real concern for Habs fans. The real concern was that seemingly every commentator was correctly pointing out that Carey Price did not look comfortable in his net, and that something seemed off with his lateral movement.
With Price looking very uncomfortable, New York was able to get one goal back in the second, but Price fought through whatever pain he was dealing with, and managed to hold them at that. Unfortunately, when the teams took to the ice to start the third, Carey Price was nowhere to be seen, and it was Mike Condon manning the net for Montreal.
But this did not deter the Canadiens forwards whatsoever. Just 17 seconds into the frame, Smith-Pelly would grab his second of the contest, taking a Tomas Plekanec feed down low and beating Lundqvist through the five-hole. Smith-Pelly was solid all night, and really seems to have earned his promotion so far.
And they just kept pouring on the run support for Condon. Just over a minute later, Alex Galchenyuk attempted a centring pass, but it was blocked and came right back to him near the faceoff dot. Rather than attempt another pass, he elected to beat Henrik Lundqvist on the short side with an absolutely wonderful snipe.
The Habs would grab their fifth goal of the night before the 10-minute mark of the third, and this time it was Max Pacioretty beating Lundqvist five-hole, redirecting a sweet feed from Alex Galchenyuk. That would be it for Lundqvist, as he became the second goaltender to be pulled on the night, albeit for a totally different reason.
The Canadiens dominated, but it was a pyrrhic victory. The news came out after the game that Carey Price had suffered an aggravation of the same injury that he suffered in late-October. To make matters worse, they also lost another forward, as Alexander Semin also left the game with an injury.
- Despite not finishing the game, Price continued his outright dominance against the Rangers, going 7-1-0 in his last eight starts, including five shutouts, and posting a 0.39 GAA, and a 0.987 SV%. Condon was sharp in his single period of relief, stopping all 10 shots he faced.
- P.K. Subban continued his quiet, yet great start to the season with an assist on the Andrighetto goal. In addition, he and Andrei Markov were lights out, with well over 50% of even-strength shot attempts going in Montreal's favour while they were on the ice.
- Tomas Plekanec was credited with three assists during the game, which tied him with Ralph Backstrom for 20th all-time with 522 points in all-time scoring for the Montreal Canadiens.
- The Galchenyuk line was dominant all night. They controlled over 60% of even-strength shot attempts while on the ice, and contributed two goals in the process. The line appears to be benefiting greatly from the speed, and solid play of Sven Andrighetto.