That went pretty well.
The Canadiens thoroughly silenced the crowd at Madison Square Garden on Sunday evening, dropping the Rangers 3-1 in a dominant performance. With the win, the Habs restored their home ice advantage in the series and take a 2-1 lead into Tuesday’s Game 4 in New York.
Thanks to Montreal’s offense, Carey Price was not required to provide any heroics.
Alexander Radulov scored the 3rd goal on a fantastical one-handed adventure.
Are you kidding me?? Alex Radulov with an insanely beautiful goal: pic.twitter.com/jpaUtunXS7— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) April 17, 2017
Shea Weber had previously netted the ultimate game-winner with just over 12 minutes remaining, the result of brilliant play by Radulov and Alex Galchenyuk.
Since this game really wasn't about Carey Price, let’s take a look at Weber’s goal instead. It’s a great example of how difficult it is for a goalie to defend against creative puck movement.
Nathan Beaulieu begins a breakout with a pass to Paul Byron near the center of the blue line. Byron chips the puck to Radulov, who skates through the center of the neutral zone with Galchenyuk to his right. Byron circles back, then speeds up ice. Radulov carries the puck across the center blue line while Galchenyuk crosses behind him.
Radulov takes the puck to the right boards, where he curls and delays before passing behind him to Galchenyuk in the right face-off circle. The pass is impressive.
Galchenyuk catches it cleanly, and moves in on Lundqvist, at which point Dan Girardi (5) takes himself out of the play with a prone slide. Galcehnyuk sidesteps the sliding defenseman’s stick, and shifts to the mid-slot. Lundqvist has a clear sightline of the puck on Galchenyuk’s forehand at this point. However, it doesn't appear that he can see Shea Weber, who has joined the play to Lundqvist’s right, obscured by Byron’s positioning.
When Galchenyuk begins to pass to Weber, his stick blade is behind both Byron and the Rangers’ Michael Grabner (40). Lundqvist is still looking to his left around the screen, and appears to have anticipated that Galchenyuk might shoot from behind the bodies in front of the net.
He slightly drops toward a butterfly position, and may not see Galchenyuk’s pass release.
Weber has already established himself in a perfect shooting position, from which he releases a one-timer into the gaping net.
Lundqvist, unable to push over in time, flings his right pad out in desperation, nearly elevating himself off the ice in the process. Weber, though, has made no mistake with this one, burying it high and inside the near post.
Lundqvist finishes face down on the ice, then sits up for a few more seconds before retaking the net.
Lundqvist appears to be angry with himself for not reading the play more accurately, knowing that a 2-goal deficit will be too much to overcome.
This kind of puck movement is very tough to defend from the goaltending position. Radulov’s brilliant entry, delay, and deceptive pass creates time and space for Galchenyuk with the puck. When Girardi sells out with his slide, the Canadiens have a 3-on-1 against Grabner, a forward, which includes an effective screen by Byron which appears to obscure Lundqvist’s view of Shea Weber until it is too late.
Galchenyuk, for his part, shows excellent patience, and gives Lundqvist just enough of a suggestion that he might shoot from behind a multilayer screen to make Lundqvist partially drop into butterfly. When Galchenyuk does get the puck to a stationary, waiting Weber, Lundqvist has no chance on the play.
Sunday’s Game 3 victory in New York went a long way toward restoring the Montreal faithful’s confidence for a deep postseason run this spring.
Finally, the Canadiens showed that they are able to win a playoff game without relying on Carey Price to carry the day.
Only fourteen more to go.