Rangers hang on to even series with Habs 2-2

20 April, 2017, 09:38 | Author: Felix Jensen

Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) celebrates with Evgeni Malkin (71), and Sidney Crosby (87) after the team's 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 2 of an NHL first-round hockey playoff series in Pittsburgh, Friday, April 14, 2017.

From the opening face-off, the Rangers served notice that they would not surrender easily.

The Rangers' best chance early came when Oscar Lindberg's shot beat Price but rang off the right post about 6 1/2 minutes into the first period.

From Henrik Lundqvist on out it was a complete effort, Lundqvist again stellar in making 23 saves. But the preponderance of play was controlled by the Rangers.

As had been expected, Alain Vigneault made changes to the NY lineup, inserting Pavel Buchnevich and Nick Holden for Tanner Glass and Kevin Klein. Price mishandled a puck behind the net and was late getting into position, giving Rick Nash (who was unsafe all night) an open side that he failed to convert. The puck caromed off the end boards awkwardly and was mishandled by the normally sure-handed Markov.

In their first home playoff game after splitting the first two on the road with the Montreal Canadiens in the Atlantic Division Semifinals, the Blueshirts turned in a lifeless, listless performance in a 3-1 defeat that was nowhere near as close as the score would indicate. In the ensuing power play, Nash broke in on Price and recklessly bowled him over, performing his best Chris Kreider imitation. NY outshot Montreal, 32-24.

Game 4 was just what the doctor ordered for the Sharks as they defeated the Oilers in dominating fashion 7-0. Alex Radulov set the play in motion when he separated Brady Skjei from the puck at the blue line and passed ahead to Mitchell, who had a 2-on-1 break with Weber. Joel Edmundson scored the first St. Louis after netting the overtime tally in Game 1.

While the shots on goal were 12-9 for the Canadiens after the first, with the exception of the last 4-5 minutes, NY was the better team in period one.

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Artturi Lehkonen and Shea Weber scored power-play goals for the Canadiens, and Alexander Radulov added a spectacular even-strength goal late in the third.

The Canadiens had issues of their own defensively. A clearing attempt was thwarted by Ryan McDonagh who promptly sent Nash in all alone on Price.

"He's a difference-maker", center Mika Zibanejad said of Nash.

Notes: New York has won the last two playoff matchups against Montreal (2014 and 1996). … The Rangers and Canadiens have now met 16 times in the playoffs. … Montreal served up 53 hits to New York's 45.

At about the 17:30 mark, Derek Stepan was called for a fairly trivial hooking penalty.

In period three, Coach Julien juggled his lines to try and get something going. Aside from one shot off the post, the Habs couldn't get anything past Lundqvist and were forced to settle for a loss.

In the actual game itself, Vigneault heavily shielded his newly assembled "top line" of Chris Kreider-Mika Zibanejad-Pavel Buchnevich, deploying them nearly entirely against the Canadiens' third and fourth lines and third defense pairing. "That's still tough. They've still got a lot of players over there, and the way they throw pucks at the net, it's challenging". There were twenty-seven turnovers in the game, the strong majority of which were committed by the Canadiens.

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