Mika Zibanejad was in the right place at the right time, and when Chris Kreider’s shot attempt hit off of Alexei Emelin’s stick and found the open Ranger, he had a wide open net and did not miss.
The goal gave the New York Rangers a 3-2 win in overtime over the Montreal Canadiens in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarter Final at the Bell Centre on Thursday night.
The Canadiens loss puts them down 3-2 in the series, one loss away from elimination.
Montreal once again saw a solid start go for naught, as the Rangers controlled most of the play after the opening 20 minutes.
Carey Price showed up early and it was a good thing. In the game’s opening minute, Nick Holden and Mats Zuccarello had a give and go, which looked like a sure goal, but Price made the save.
Almost immediately after, Henrik Lundqvist made an equally huge save against the line of Alex Galchenyuk, Andrew Shaw and Artturi Lehkonen on a shot by Jeff Petry.
Alexei Emelin’s return to the lineup started with tripping penalty on Pavel Buchnevich, who broke in the zone around Emelin, who tripped him after the play.
The two teams traded chances before a fight between Shaw and Brendan Smith. The fight stemmed from a scrum in front of Henrik Lundqvist.
The Canadiens took the lead at 12:07 of the first period when Lehkonen single handedly created a scoring opportunity.
The rookie forechecked on Marc Staal and actually created a turnover, and ended up with the puck behind the net and beat Lundqvist on the wrap around.
Just over two minutes later, Kevin Hayes took a holding the stick penalty and the following 1:50 of the penalty was quite the sequence.
On the power play, Shea Weber had an opportunity on a shot that was saved by Lundqvist but snuck behind him just wide of the net and off the boards. Later in the power play, Alex Galchenyuk had his pass intercepted allowing Zibanejad to find Jesper Fast who beat Price five hole for the shorthanded goal to tie the game at 1-1.
Just 24 seconds later, still on the power play, Andrei Markov found Brendan Gallagher alone in the slot who fired a laser over Lundqvist to regain a 2-1 lead for the Canadiens.
In the second period, Montreal could not convert two power play opportunities, and the even strength play was pretty even between the two teams. The Rangers had an opportunity when a bad line change gave the Rangers a break but Nathan Beaulieu saved a goal when he tied up a Ranger at the side of the net on the rush.
Late in the period, Markov and Gallagher chased the play along the boards, leaving the corner open. Rick Nash and Brady Skjei then had a two-on-one down low. Weber tried to take Nash, allowing Skjei to have a wide open opportunity at the side of the net for a rebound, tying the game at 2-2 with only 1:32 remaining.
The third period saw Claude Julien swap Alexander Radulov and Lehkonen, and Lehkonen with Phillip Danault and Pacioretty had several opportunities. With the Canadiens shorthanded in the opening minute of the third, Danault had a two-on-one with Pacioretty, but rang his snap shot off the post behind Lundqvist.
Pacioretty would have a breakaway chance later in the frame but his snap shot was saved by the pad of Lundqvist.
Price also had several opportunities he had to stop, and remained perfect in the frame. That extended to overtime, when he had to make several saves. The Rangers best opportunity before the winner came when the puck bounced over Kreider’s stick at the side of the net minutes before Zibanejad’s winner.
Game Six is Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. Puck drop is at 8:00 p.m.
- This is a very frustrating series. The Canadiens are getting good individual performances, but their team play seems disjointed. They aren’t playing their style and should be creating more opportunities. They have the players and the goaltender and can afford to play aggressive. They need to find that next gear.
- This game, like the rest of the series was so close. Danault’s post or Pacioretty’s breakaway would have ensured that the game never even went to overtime.
- It seems that most mistakes that Montreal makes end up in their net.
- I have seen people say that Carey Price hasn’t stolen a game for the Habs, and that might be true, but this game could have ended earlier if not for some great Price saves.