After Monday night’s come-from-behind performance in Brooklyn, the Canadiens rolled into another borough of New York looking two more points. This time standing in their way were Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers. There were no lineup changes for Montreal, besides Carey Price taking over between the pipes at Madison Square Garden.
After a bit of an uneven first period against the Islanders the previous night, the Canadiens wasted no time finding the back of the net on Tuesday. Just 23 seconds in, Tomas Tatar scored his first goal in 10 games to put the Canadiens up early, with Jordie Benn and Jeff Petry each collecting an assist. Tatar and Phillip Danault fled the zone with speed, and Benn fed a perfect pass up the boards. Tatar looked off the lone defender and ripped a shot through Lundqvist’s five-hole for his fourth goal of the game.
The Rangers did mount a good pushback in the following minutes, with multiple two-on-one chances catching the Canadiens off guard. Solid goaltending from Price kept them off the board, even with a loose-puck scramble around the net after the netminder thought he had a shot covered up with his glove.
Montreal took the control back following that, and with the first power play of the night they had a chance to double their lead, using it to put heavy pressure on a struggling Rangers team. Despite a few good chances, the Canadiens failed to put another puck past Lundqvist.
Shortly thereafter, the Rangers found a tying goal. Another odd-man rush off a turnover led to Kevin Hayes and Chris Kreider driving the net against Benn. A solid block by Benn negated Hayes’ original pass, but Hayes immediately got the puck back and fed it to Kreider, who had no issue slotting it past a diving Price.
With time winding down in the period, Max Domi and Marc Staal took a pair of off-setting penalties in a tussle behind the play. Nothing further amounted of it as the teams headed into the first intermission tied at a goal apiece.
The second period started with a thud, with a Danault penalty putting the Canadiens down a man, and on a four-on-three penalty kill. The players did their job, shutting down the Rangers’ man advantage, and swinging momentum back to the their side.
In the following minutes, the top line of Brendan Gallagher, Tatar, and Danault went right back to work, cycling with ease through the Rangers’ zone. Danault was the catalyst in the go-ahead goal, shoveling a puck back to the front of the net. Tatar redirected the shot, grabbing his second goal of the game.
The goals didn’t stop there. Another Andersson penalty sent the Canadiens’ power play out, and this time they made sure to take advantage of the situation. The Rangers’ penalty-killers swarmed entirely onto Jeff Petry and Brendan Gallagher in the corner, leaving Max Domi wide open in front of the net. Domi collected Gallagher’s pass, and coolly pulled the puck to his backhand and finished with aplomb.
Then everything went off the rails.
Max Domi threw his body into Filip Chytil, which drew the ire of Neal Pionk, whom Domi ignored as the play moved on. As the puck went along the boards to Jonathan Drouin, he was targeted by Cody McLeod, charging him from across the ice, and delivering a high hit to the Canadiens forward. Mikey Reilly engaged McLeod and only got his gloves off before the scrum was broken up. As the penalties were sorted out McLeod was given a minor for charging, four minutes for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct, sending Montreal to a four-minute power play.
With the Canadiens attempting to gain the zone to get set up, Brendan Smith went knee on knee with Joel Armia, which knocked the Finnish forward out of the game with eight minutes to play in the second period. On the ensuing five-on-three, Tatar was whistled for interference, and then Domi sat for getting into it with Staal once again. If that wasn’t enough, the Canadiens went down to just three skaters with Danault heading to the box for hooking.
Once Danault had left the box, the ice had tilted firmly in favour of the Rangers, and Tony DeAngelo took advantage to score his second goal of the year. The teams headed to the second intermission with Montreal up by a goal, but the Rangers far from out of it.
The Canadiens’ lack of discipline during their second-period power-play chances would end up being the turning point, as the third period belonged fully to the Rangers. Through the opening half of the frame, Montreal did well limiting chances against, but a wonky goal for Pavel Buchnevich tipped the scales. A shot hit Price high, and as it bounced down in front, Buchnevich jumped on the rebound and tapped it in to tie the game.
Playing their second game of a back-to-back it looked like the Canadiens were content to play for overtime and grab another point on their road trip. A pair of penalties led to another four-on-four situation, and with the extra space Pionk made up for his early gaffes by putting Noah Juulsen and Reilly on his personal highlight reel.
Montreal had an abbreviated power play to try to get it back, but Mika Zibanejad potted a short-handed tally thanks to miscommunication between Price and Petry, coupled with a poor effort from Drouin on the backcheck to give New York all the cushion they needed to see the game out.
Montreal will look to bounce back from this on Thursday when they meet the high flying Buffalo Sabres, and for the Canadiens they’ll be looking to keep their streak of not losing back-to-back games going.
- This most certainly looked like a team playing a second straight night, after a draining game the night before. Missed assignments, lazy passes, and too many defensive miscues doomed them. Claude Julien and his staff will have plenty to review during film sessions.
- Max Domi and Tomas Tatar continue to be the heart and soul of this offence, Domi matched his goal total from last year already, and it’s only November. For Tatar, he missed having a hat trick by a few inches late in the game. Their hot streaks are helping keep the Canadiens going while some players work through horrible slumps.
- It might be time to shuffle the pairings a little bit. Reilly has had a few rough games, and didn’t look great on the game-winning goal. The sooner Shea Weber returns, the better the defence can be, because a lot of guys who played well above their expected level to start the year are returning to earth now.