Facing off against an All-Star goaltender for the second night in a row, the Montreal Canadiens wanted to bounce back and win against the New York Rangers. Unfortunately, Henrik Lundqvist was back to his old form, posting a 34-save shutout — his first of the season, and 62nd of his career — in a 2-0 Blueshirt victory.
The game started off well for Montreal, who controlled much of the play in the early going. At 6:24 of the first period, the Habs appeared to get on the board first when the puck crossed the goal line past Lundqvist. The celebration ended fairly quickly when the play was reviewed and it was deemed that Montreal forward Andrew Shaw had kicked the puck into the net off of Lundqvist, which is an illegal way to score a goal.
Minutes later, the Rangers escaped again with a successful challenge. A Shea Weber slapshot went in the net as well, but Habs captain Max Pacioretty bumped into Lundqvist just inside the blue paint, and it was deemed to be goaltender interference.
Carey Price did his best at the other end to turn aside the few chances the Rangers had, with his best stop of the night coming off a Rick Nash shot.
With just 2:35 left in the first period, a lucky bounce went to the opposing team as Rangers defenceman Brady Skjei lined a pass in front that deflected off Weber's skate and past a sprawled Price, giving them a 1-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
In the second, it was a lot of back-and-forth hockey with neither team able to light the lamp, which was actually very fortunate for Montreal as they had to kill off three minors during the period.
When the third commenced, the Canadiens really knew they had to come out and play their hardest to improve on one goal over the last five periods.
But it didn't happen.
Nearing the midway point of the final frame, Rangers defenceman Pavel Buchnevich saw an open Mika Zibanejad in the slot, and the Swede put home his team-leading fourth of the season.
Lundqvist held his fort the rest of the way, stopping everything fired at him to improve on his 1-8-1 record in his previous 10 meetings versus Montreal, and notched his third career shutout against the Habs.
- The Canadiens and head coach Claude Julien made a couple of lineup changes prior to Sunday's game; replacing Ales Hemsky and Mark Streit and inserting Brandon Davidson and Torrey Mitchell into the game. While it didn’t lead to abetter result, the Habs were much more consistent throughout the lineup, with every player being at 50% possession or better.
- Artturi Lehkonen had been playing more of a support role on Tomas Plekanec’s line, but last night he was taking matters into his own hands, with several good scoring chances. With Hudon being one of the top players on the team to start the year on his opposite wing, it’s only a matter of time before that line gets rewarded.
After taking home only one win on their three-game road swing, they head back to Canada for their home opener Tuesday night at the Bell Centre, against the Chicago Blackhawks (2-0-0), a team that has already scored 15 times in this young season. The Habs will hope their luck will turn with the crowd on their side for the first time this season.