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Rangers home win streak ends as Canadiens cruise to 5-1 win

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers vs canadiens 11-25

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

The issues that have been plaguing the New York Rangers (16-4-2) all season long finally caught up to them.

Following a surprising win over the Nashville Predators, despite playing poorly through two periods, the Montreal Canadiens (17-4-2) slapped around the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, cruising to a relatively easy 5-1 win.

It was easy because the defensive effort from New York was lackluster to say the least, and the likes of Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi and others left Henrik Lundqvist out to dry. The Swedish netminder was pulled in the third period after allowing five goals on 24 shots.

The loss was just the Rangers fourth in regulation this season and their second loss in the last 13 games, snapping their nine game home win streak, their longest since the 1971-72 season. The team’s record at MSG is now 10-2-1.

The Rangers actually played a decent first period, avoiding the same fate of no possession and shots that plagued them in the last two games. They finished with 11 shots on goal to Montreal’s 10, and each team had one power play opportunity.

The beginning of the game was very conservative, with both teams seemingly hesitant to try and break out or take any chances. The Rangers struggled to get much of anything going for the first half of the period, but to their credit, they didn’t allow Montreal to get a plethora of high quality chances either.

The Habs would open up the scoring just 4:45 into the period, with the Swiss native Sven Andrighetto scoring his first goal of the season, and the third of his career. PK Subban shot a puck at Lundqvist, but Lars Eller blocked it in front and worked it over to Andrighetto, who backhanded it past Lundqvist. Subban picked up his 19th assist of the season.

It wouldn’t be a Rangers game without a big save from Henrik Lundqivst, and he delivered in this period. Henrik made an excellent pad save on Dale Weise’s one timer from in timer before getting back into position to stop David Desharnais on the second chance.

After New York killed off a Dan Boyle tripping penalty, they got a power play of their own when Weise was called for interference. While they didn’t score a goal, it did generate some momentum for the Blueshirts, getting four shots on goal.

Oscar Lindberg had the best chance, one-timing a feed from Keith Yandle, but Carey Price got enough of his pad on it to deflect it off the outside of the post. JT Miller also made a nifty move to cut to the front of the net, but shot the puck wide when he was backchecked. The Rangers headed into the locker room with momentum and down a goal.

The second period was oddly similar to the first one. Montreal controlled the game early, slowed down the Rangers and scored a goal early on. Devante Smith-Pelly, filling in Brendan Gallagher’s spot, was the recipient of an excellent pass from Max Pacioretty from behind the net. Smith-Pelly collected the puck and shot it in one motion, beating Lundqvist before he could react and putting the Canadiens up 2-0.

The Ranger really weren’t able to get anything going for a while, but then Montreal started taking penalties, a total of three in the second period. The first two didn’t result in anything, but they finally broke through on the fourth power play of the night.

Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard worked the puck out to Ryan McDonagh at the point. The captain had his head up the whole time, and shot the puck at Rick Nash’s screen in front, hitting him in the thigh and beating Carey Price for the Rangers first goal of the game.

Nash has scored five goals in the last three games, scoring in each of the contests. The assist on that goal was Derick Brassard’s 12th point in the last 14 games, and the 300th of his NHL career.

The Rangers headed into the locker room down a goal and up 23-18 in shots.

In a strange turn of events, the Canadiens had Mike Condon, their rookie backup, in net to start the third period. The Rangers had a good third period, momentum swung their way and they were in a good position to succeed.

But instead, they blew it, allowing two goals in under two minutes, just a span of 1:12 apart from each other. Both of the goals came off of turnovers and defensive breakdowns.

Devante Smith-Pelly scored his second goal of the game just 17 seconds into the period. Ryan McDonagh made a terrible pass along the boards, which was intercepted by Plekanec. He passed it to Smith-Pelly for a tap in, extending the Canadiens lead to 3-1.

Shortly after that, Alex Galchenyuk scored his fourth goal of the season. Marc Staal turned the puck over at the blue line, and nobody came to challenge him. Galchenyuk skated in, fought off a defender and fired the puck over Lundqvist’s shoulder. It wasn’t a good goal to let in, but it all started because of a turnover.

Zuccarello then took a penalty for tripping, and Max Pacioretty coverted for his 12th goal of the season. He deflected a shot from Galchenyuk and Lundqvist got a piece of it, but not enough. Montreal led 5-1, and that would be the final score.

This was a really horrendous effort from the Rangers, and honestly, it was embarrassing to get beat like that on home ice. They had chances, outshot Montreal 34-25, had five power play opportunities, and lost.

The Rangers defense is NOT elite. They get praise for being an excellent defensive group and that they’re hard to break down, but it’s not true. The real truth is that Henrik Lundqvist has been there to bail them out for a ton of their mistakes.

However, it’s not reasonable to expect him to post a .946 save percentage over the course of an entire season. That would be a new record. So when he comes back to normalcy in some games, this happens. The defense gets exposed and Lundqvist is not able to bail out their constant mistakes.

Keith Yandle and Kevin Klein about 70 percent of the time are the only defensemen that know how to make a proper outlet pass. Dan Girardi and Marc Staal are turnover machines under pressure from the forecheck, Dan Boyle prefers to carry the puck out of the zone, counterintuitive to Vigneault’s system, and McDonagh has made quite a few boneheaded decisions this year.

The defensive coverage was downright atrocious at sometimes tonight. On numerous occasions, a Canadien was left wide open in front of the net, or given a chance for a breakaway, or not pressured at the blue line. It was bad effort from the defense, and they need to get much, much better.

The Rangers are back at it on Friday afternoon in Boston against the Bruins.

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Posted on November 26, 2015, in Game Recaps and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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