(SportsNetwork.com) – A rematch of last spring’s Eastern Conference finals is
on tap Saturday, as the Montreal Canadiens welcome the New York Rangers to the
The Rangers ousted Montreal in six games for last season’s conference title
before losing to the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals. It marked
New York’s first trip to the Cup Finals since winning it all in 1994, while
the Habs were denied a shot at playing on hockey’s stage for the first time
since their last championship in ’93.
Both the Blueshirts and Canadiens are teams built on speed, but New York
boasts size as well as quickness. Montreal and New York also have two of
game’s best goaltenders in Carey Price and Henrik Lundqvist.
Price will face the Rangers for the first time since Game 1 of the conference
finals. Montreal’s No. 1 goaltender was knocked out of the playoffs in that
contest after suffering a knee injury when New York forward Chris Kreider
crashed into him at the end of a breakaway. Although Kreider has insisted time
and again the collision was unintentional, the winger will almost certainly
receive an icy reception from Canadiens fans tonight.
Not including that fateful playoff game, Price is 8-5-1 with a 2.06 goals
against average in his career against the Rangers. Lundqvist, who expects to
start for New York, is 13-11-2 with a 2.84 GAA in 27 regular-season
appearances versus Montreal.
The Canadiens enter the showdown with a 6-1-0 record and will shoot for a
fourth consecutive victory on Saturday. Montreal is 3-0 so far on a four-game
homestand and last played on Tuesday when it notched a 2-1 overtime win
David Desharnais scored 56 seconds into the extra session to lift the Habs to
victory over the Red Wings. After P.K. Subban fired a shot from above the left
circle, Max Pacioretty took the rebound and had his wrister denied by Jimmy
Howard. Desharnais gathered the loose puck at the left side of the net and
swatted a backhander over a falling Howard for the game-winner.
Alex Galchenyuk scored the game-tying goal with 3:09 to play in the third
period and Price made 27 saves for the win.
“We have great character on this team,” Galchenyuk said. “In the third, we
started going to the net and it paid off for us.”
Montreal has won nine of its last 10 home games against the Rangers in the
regular season and also claimed five of the past six encounters prior to last
spring’s playoff meeting.
The Rangers also enter Saturday with a shot at winning their fourth
consecutive game. New York also posted an OT win in its last game, posting a
4-3 comeback win Tuesday night in New Jersey.
New York trailed the Devils 3-1 early in the third period before rallying for
the win. Kevin Klein’s goal with 2:18 remaining in OT capped the furious
comeback at Prudential Center.
The Rangers forcing overtime on goals by Chris Mueller and Rick Nash and
Lundqvist also helped bring on the extra session with a 28-save effort that
included several key stops late in regulation.
“I am just really happy the way we came back,” Lundqvist said. “When they
scored that third one, and the way their power play was playing, it was a
tough, but we responded in a big way. It was a big two points for us.”
Kreider set up Klein’s game-winner and scored earlier for New York, while
Mueller also chipped in an assist in the Rangers’ triumph.
New York’s next game is against Minnesota on Monday when the Blueshirts kick
off a four-game homestand. Montreal will begin a three-game road trip the same
night in Edmonton.
Also, the Canadiens will join the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs in
coordinated pregame ceremonies prior to the start of their respective home
games tonight. The teams will be honoring Canadian soldiers who were killed
earlier this week.
On Wednesday, a gunman shot and killed a Canadian solider standing guard
at the National War Memorial, then entered Parliament before being shot to
On Monday, a solider was killed as a man drove into him with a car at a
building near Montreal.