The game started out quickly, with both teams exchanging chances early on. Tested early after a Jeff Petry penalty, the Habs penalty kill was solid, and that continued to be the case the rest of the night. The Rangers’ best chance came off an Oscar Lindberg shot that pinged off the post behind Carey Price.
The Canadiens second line of Paul Byron - Tomas Plekanec - Brendan Gallagher was perhaps their best the entire game, causing havoc in New York’s zone, with a couple good chances for Byron being snuffed out by Henrik Lundqvist.
The Rangers had a late power play in the period, but all chances were shut down by Price. The game remained scoreless throughout the first, with the play heavily in Montreal’s favour, as they led the game in shots 10-6.
Claude Julien put in a lot of confidence in 41-14-11 on the night, as they had good chances early on in the second period as well.
Montreal continued the offensive onslaught they had in the first, as Max Pacioretty and Torrey Mitchell both were stymied by Lundqvist, who was excellent all night long, and often had to bail out the porous New York defence.
With just under five minutes to go in the period, J.T. Miller took a penalty for using his glove on the draw, sending the Canadiens on the power play. Almost immediately, Artturi Lehkonen and Plekanec sent the Rangers into a scramble, as they crashed the crease in an attempt to jam the puck past Lundqvist.
The ensuing draw was won by Plekanec, and after some quick passing, Gallagher teed up Lekhonen in the slot, and he rifled home his first playoff goal past Lundqvist’s glove, giving Montreal the lead with just over two minutes remaining in the second period.
New York was pressing at the end of the period, but were thwarted on a odd-man rush by the outstanding backcheck of Alexander Radulov, preventing any further chances for New York in the dying minutes.
Early on in the third, Mats Zuccarello took a highsticking penalty on Markov, drawing blood and giving the Habs the extended four-minute power play. The man advantage didn’t work at first, as the Canadiens committed a few failed zone entries, killing a lot of time.
On the tail end of the power play, Radulov managed to break into the Rangers zone, and moved the puck to Galchenyuk. The centreman patiently outwaited a scrambling New York defence before feeding Shea Weber for the 2-0 lead.
Following the goal, the Rangers were sent to a power play on an interference penalty by Lekhonen, but were unable to enter the zone on the man advantage, as Montreal’s defence was almost unbeatable throughout the penalty kill.
Midway through the third, the Rangers only had 14 total shots on goal, prompting Alain Vigneault to pull out the line blender, mixing and matching the Rangers forwards as he was desperate to create any offence against the Habs, who dominated all night long.
With 4:25 left in the game, Radulov decided to seal the deal, as he scored Montreal’s third of the night on a ridiculous one-handed effort, controlling the puck despite pressure from New York’s defence and tucking it past Lundqvist in a brilliant show of skill and finesse.
Lundqvist was pulled for the extra attacker following Radulov’s tally, as the Rangers made every effort to get something going. New York had an extra attacker for almost four minutes, and took advantage when defender Brady Skjei ripped a slapshot past Price with under two minutes left to play.
But that was as close as the Rangers got, and the Habs held on for the 3-1 victory to claim the series lead.
- There’s nothing but praise for the Canadiens’ defence last night. Every pairing was extremely solid, and rarely did they scramble in their own zone to clear the puck. Shea Weber has been excellent since the playoffs began, and it showed last night. The Petry-Benn pairing was also very noticeable for their defensive and transition game.
- The 41-14-11 line is brilliant. They were adept defensively, and caused headaches for the Rangers in the offensive zone. Gallagher and Byron complement each other perfectly, and have excellent chemistry, as displayed in the first period. Plekanec also led all Habs forwards in ice time, with 18:53 tonight.
- Galchenyuk made a ajor impact following his promotion to centre between Shaw and Lekhonen, as he assisted on Weber’s goal. He showed confidence and seems to have regained some of his swagger back.
- Lundqvist, while brilliant in the first two periods, looked fatigued and not as sharp as the previous game. The Habs had 29 shots on goal, totalling up to 118 over the three games played in the series so far. The offence is wearing him down, slowly but surely, and the Rangers defence has been a mess as well, which he’s always quick to remind them after a breakdown.
- Radulov. The guy is just ridiculously good, and his goal last night proves it. He’s been one of the Habs best forwards these playoffs, with five points in the last two games. Outstanding.