The Canadiens beat the New York Rangers 3-1 at Madison Square Garden Tuesday night and rode their first five game winning streak in two years right into first place in the NHL’s Eastern Conference. It was a come-from-behind win. Anton Stralman gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead at 12:29 of the second period but Max Pacioretty tied it late in the period. Alex Galchenyuk scored the game winner and Raphael Diaz added an empty net goal. The Canadiens lead the Eastern Conference by a point over Pittsburgh. Each team has played sixteen games.
The game’s three stars were Galchenyuk, Price and the Rangers Carl Hagelin.
TheCanadiens return home to host the New York Islanders Thursday.
Random Thinking -
Keeping It Boring – The Canadiens took not only the Rangers but their Madison Square Garden fans right out of the game early. It was deadly dull and it is exactly the way Michel Therrien wanted it. The perfect road game.
The Icing Game – The Canadiens iced the puck 16 times in the game which, one would think would be disastrous especially in light of the Canadiens general faceoff ineptitude. But the Canadiens had a fairly good night in defensive zone faceoffs winning 16 of 31. Between the icings and Carey Price stopping play every time the puck came near the goal, the Rangers were never able to establish any kind of momentum.
Controversy – What would an NHL be without it? Late in the secod period Erik Cole chipped the puck into the Rangers zone from the other side of centre ice. Michael Del Zotto went back to touch up for what he believed would be an icing, but the linesman waived it off just before he slapped the puck away. The Canadiens got possession and Max Pacioretty eventually scored on a screen shot to tie the game with 1:15 remaining in the period. It was the Canadiens 9th shot on goal.
Welcome Back – Brandon Prust was back at Madison Square Garden for the first time in an opposition sweater. He, along with linemates Alex Galchenyuk and Lars Eller were the Canadiens best offensive threat by far. Prust wound up plus-3. For the second straight night, the line was in on the game winning goal. Prust set up Galchenyuk this time. In the Carolina game Monday it was Galchenyuk to Prust. Prust also led the Canadiens with four hits.
Never Dull – P.K. Subban put a knee into Marian Gaborik which drew a delayed penalty and his teammates quit skating which gave Anton Stralman a chance to bury his own rebound giving the Rangers a 1-0 lead.
The Saviour - Twice in the final five minutes with the Canadiens leading 2-1, Tomas Plekanec prevented sure Rangers goals. The first came after P.K. Subban fell behind the net and Plekanec cleared the puck from the goal line. A minute later Derek Stepan got a chance and again it was Plekanec who cleared the puck.
Panic Time – Still 2-1 and Plekanec, the Habs best penalty killer was handed a two minute minor for tripping Gaborick with 3:06 remaining. And with still 43 seconds left in his penalty, Henrik Lundqvist was pulled giving the Rangers a 6-on-4 advantage. While he was in the box the Canadiens were 3-for-3 in the faceoff circle; Ryan White beat Mike Richards in the first and then with Lundqvist out Eller beat Derek Stepan and White took Richards again in the play that led to the Raphael Diaz empty net goal.
Head of the Class –The Canadiens’ defence has carried the team through it’s 11 wins to date. Quietly Raphael Diaz has moved to the top of the depth chart. Diaz was plus two on the night and hit the Ranger net dead centre from 200 feet away for the clinching empty net goal. Michel Therrien entrusted him with 21:58 ice time more than any of his teammates. Over the last four games Diaz is plus-6 with a goal and two assists. His 12 points is second only to Plekanec’s 13 on the Canadiens.
Playing it Tough– Playing Michel Therrien’s system which requires that there always be at least two players on the puck at all times, the Canadiens have given up just two goals over their last four games.
Carey! Carey! - Price returned from his three day bout with the flu and was good when he had to be, stopping 24 of 25 shots. Most noticeable in this game was the lack of rebounds. He leads the league with nine victories and his goals-against average has dipped below two (1.98) for the first time this season. His save percentage is up to .925.
Quote of the Night – Frustrated Ranger Head Coach John Tortorella = “It’s probably one of the worst hockey games I’ve ever been involved in. It was two bad teams playing, and we were worse than they were.”