The Canadiens struggled to solve Henrik Lundqvist, and as a result were never able to gain scoring momentum; in Game Six or indeed throughout their first-round series.
They opened the game with a faceoff win and Brendan Gallagher, Tomas Plekanec, and Artturi Lehkonen were aggressive early. Gallagher took a hard shot early which was stopped by Henrik Lundqvist and resulted in the first broken stick of the game.
An unlikely pair turned to fisticuffs, when Max Pacioretty and Jimmy Vesey both took matching majors, with coincidental minors adding in. This occurred in response to a sharp stop by Alexander Radulov sending some snow flying Lundqvist’s way, and a culmination of Pacioretty’s frustration throughout the series.
Pacioretty takes out his frustration on Vesey pic.twitter.com/AdHGTslQIm— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) April 23, 2017
Things looked good early for the Canadiens, as Radulov carried the puck behind the net and attempted a wraparound shot that was blocked. Alexei Emelin was able to get the rebound, and with a quick wrist shot he put the Canadiens up 1-0.
The first man advantage went to the Canadiens when McDonagh was called for hooking on Alex Galchenyuk. Radulov, Galchenyuk, and Phillip Danault took turns exchanging the puck. When Danault finally took the shot it went just wide.
Montreal took their first penalty at 13:30 when Jordie Benn was called for hooking. Mika Zibanejad found Mats Zuccerallo, who stopped it with his skate and fired it past Price, tying the game. There’s no doubt Price would want to have that one back, as it wasn’t a particularly dangerous great shot.
Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh both had chances that beat the Canadiens’ defence, but not Price. The Rangers were able to quickly diminish the Habs’ early lead in shots.
Shortly thereafter the Rangers struck again. J.T. Miller sent the puck to Kevin Hayes, who fooled everyone by sending the puck to a wide open Zuccarello, giving the Rangers a 2-1 lead. For a team on the brink of elimination, Montreal’s defensive structure was often in shambles.
They were presented with an opportunity to even the score when Miller was sent to the box for high sticking. Despite Davidson being bloodied, the penalty was only given two minutes.
Gallagher won the faceoff that followed and got the puck to a waiting Shea Weber, who fired a bullet that was blocked by Jesper Fast. A shot by Pacioretty was also unable to find the back of the net, followed by a second Weber shot, but nothing got by Lundqvist during the man advantage.
Jeff Petry opened the third with an early scoring chance that was yet again stopped by Lundqvist, a common theme throughout the series.
Mika Zibaneijad’s attempt that followed was met by a ready Price, as was the attempt by Kevin Hayes shortly thereafter.
Brian Flynn fired a wrist shot that was one of the Canadiens’ better chances in the period. The top line showed brief flashes of offensive promise but none could solve the Rangers’ netminder.
At 10:53, Chris Kreider was called for high-sticking on Weber, and the Canadiens were awarded a two-minute man advantage. Montreal’s best scoring chance — a wraparound attempt by Lehkonen — was stopped by Lundqvist, and the Canadiens were unable to capitalize on the power play.
Montreal struggled to keep the puck in the Rangers’ end throughout the period and spent much valuable time chasing cleared pucks, rather than acquiring scoring opportunities.
With under four minutes remaining, the Canadiens took an avoidable icing call and once again returned to the defensive zone. The Rangers followed it up with an icing call of their own, which should have provided Montreal an opportunity deep in the Rangers’ end, however New York cleared the puck without facing any danger.
Plekanec fired what was by far the Canadiens’ best attempt at tying the game, but Lundqvist stuck his leg out, made the save, and maintained the lead.
The Canadiens were unable to keep the puck in the Rangers’ end in the final minute of the game. Lehkonen had a final opportunity, which went wide when his stick abandoned him. The Rangers cleared the puck one last time, sending it down the ice and into the empty net.
As the final horn was heard, the Habs lost 3-1, eliminated the 2017 playoffs in six game.
- Montreal struggled with keeping the puck in the Rangers end, and in an elimination game that just can’t happen. There was a lack of creativity in the offensive zone during even-strength play and powerplay situations.
- Oh scorers where art thou? Radulov hit the score sheet with regularity, but the same can’t be said for many other offensive players.
- Alexei Emelin scored the Canadiens lone goal in an elimination game! I never anticipated I would have to write those words. Small victories!
- Once again the Canadiens were relying on their goalie to be nearly perfect, and in this case it was the Rangers’ goalie who was better. Price let in a weak goal, but the fact of the matter is that the Habs struggled to score in this series.