Before the game even started, there was drama fit for Broadway. Carey Price took a high shot off shoulder from Paul Byron in warmups, leaving the ice early. No worse for wear, he still started the game - his first in Madson Square Garden since the Kreider Incident.
The two teams wasted no time getting started, with a big Shea Weber block early on a nearly two-on-one chance for the Rangers after a Canadiens scoring chance went awry, keeping the game at zeroes.
Two minutes in, the Byron-Alex Galchenyuk-Brendan Gallagher line created a flurry of scoring chances in front of Henrik Lundqvist including a goal post but no luck for the Habs.
Instead, on nearly the next shift, Andrew Shaw picked up a Weber rebound off the boards behind the net and wrapped around the net to stuff it in the short side behind Lundqvist, putting the Habs up 1-0.
Immediately the Rangers countered with a good chance from Chris Kreider but Price came up big to make the stop and preserve the Habs lead.
The Rangers got the first powerplay of the night when Michael McCarron went off for an elbow to the head of Brady Skjei. A quick stick left by Weber stopped a scoring chance by Mats Zuccarello as he brushed past a sprawling Price, knocking his mask off. Price continued on no worse for wear though.
The Canadiens killed off McCarron’s penalty, demonstrating a much more aggressive penalty kill than we’ve seen as of late that didn’t really allow the Rangers to get set up. The Rangers had no shots on goal during their powerplay.
Half way through the period, Fast’s speed allowed him to fly past a stumbling Alexei Emelin as he sent the puck to a rushing Oscar Lindberg. Lindberg tipped the past from right in the crease to tie the game at one. Later on, a great defensive play by Greg Pateryn on Chris Kreider stopped a quick mini-breakaway and sent the puck back to the offensive zone for the Canadiens.
A slick cross-ice pass from Max Pacioretty to Alexander Radulov for the one-timer almost provided the Canadiens their second goal, but Lundqvist slid across just in time. Right after, Radulov was called for high-sticking and it took until 3 seconds remaining for the Rangers to get their first shot on net, a save by Price. The Rangers ended the period with a flurry of chances but some good saves and quality defensive plays kept the score even as the clock ticked down.
The second period opened with some chances at either end though nothing very dangerous until a hard forecheck by the Plekanec line created a powerplay for the Canadiens 90 seconds in. The Habs started their man advantage just one for 24 in their last nine games.
Pacioretty won the lost faceoff on a scramble at the half boards, sending the puck to Andrei Markov who set Weber up for his patented bomb. Lundqvist managed to get a piece of it with his blocker, but it wasn’t enough, as the Habs took the lead once again.
Soon after, a Radulov scoring chance lead to a Rick Nash breakaway with the Habs’ defense pinching but he was stopped by Price.
Later, Rick Nash’s line exerted some force in the Canadiens end creating some scoring chances as the Habs’ scrambled a bit defensively. Finally, Alexei Emelin was able to clear the puck and create some breathing room for the Habs. Play continued back and forth until halfway through the period when Rick Nash ended up on the breakaway yet again. He wouldn’t be denied a second time, tying the game 2-2.
The Canadiens answered with some pressure from the Galchenyuk line again. The play continued down the ice, as Lindberg knocked Price down in his crease with no call. The Canadiens then rushed towards the Rangers end and Gallagher was helped into Lundqvist at high speed by Ryan McDonagh, picking up a goaltender interference penalty.
The Rangers’ powerplay started with a good shorthanded chance by Tomas Plekanec before the play made its way in front of Price. A spectacular glove save by the Habs’ netminder kept the game tied. The Rangers struggled to get set up for the remainder of their powerplay, creating one final scoring chance by Jimmy Vesey in tight and gathered up by Price.
With 5 minutes remaining, the Rangers took a Too Many Men penalty giving the Habs the chance to retake the lead. A lacklustre start to the powerplay was highlighted by a Kevin Hayes almost-breakaway, stopped short by the speed of Andrei Markov. The Rangers kept the Habs to some outside passes and maybe ended up with more scoring chances the the Canadiens on their powerplay.
A final minute scoring chance for the Rangers was thwarted by a good defensive play from Andrew Shaw, ensuring they would head to the third tied at 2.
The third period started with a solid forecheck by the Canadiens but nothing to show for it. The Rangers responded with some pressure of their own, equally futile. Artturi Lehkonen, late in his shift, managed to escape on a half-breakaway on Lundqvist, getting his shot off just a little too late to beat Lundqvist.
Play continued with chances at either end until the Rangers’ forecheck caused the Canadiens to scramble in the defensive zone for a bit. The Habs would bend but not break, finally escaping their end and sending the play to the offensive zone.
With six minutes remaining, an errant Mika Zibanejad stick hit Emelin in the face, sending the Canadiens to their third powerplay of the evening. With 45 seconds left, Shaw, reaching for the puck behind the net, tripped up Marc Staal ending the Habs’ man advantage. Both penalties ended with the score still tied at 2. Nathan Beaulieu’s stumble against the boards in his own end created some excitement in the dying seconds but the game would head to extras.
The Rangers opened overtime with a scoring chance but the Habs converted into a rush of their own, forcing Lundqvist to make a glove save on Pacioretty. The Rangers countered with some sustained pressure in the Habs’ end until Pacioretty found himself in alone on Lundqvist on a long and timely Markov pass, but Lundqvist managed to squeeze the pads shut to keep the game going.
With less than a minute left, the Rangers were provided two two-on-one chances created poorly timed changes by tired Habs, but couldn’t convert.
As the final seconds ticked down, Plekanec’s shot pinged off the cross bar, giving the Rangers yet another two-on-one. With just seconds left, Carey Price made a miraculous leaping save to send the game to the shootout.
The shootout began with a quick goal from Mats Zuccarello, which went unanswered until Alex Radulov beat Lundqvist with a silky smooth backhand.
Finally, Paul Byron broke the deadlock, earning the Canadiens a much-needed win, and Claude Julien’s first victory since his return to the Habs.
- Paul Byron helped the Habs to the extra point tonight with his 3rd career game-deciding shoot-out goal. He’s come up big for the Habs in some key moments since joining the team and though we often bemoan the excess of bottom-sixers, it’s hard to get to upset when they can produce like that.
- There were two or three times when the Habs got caught in their own end and scrambled a bit before finding their way out. Two or three is a marked improvement from the last stretch of games though and the Habs stuck right with the hot Rangers (winners of 7 of their last 8) for the most part.
- Carey Price, eh? Wow.