Rangers fall at home to Montreal in potential playoff preview
The New York Rangers came into this game knowing that it could be a preview of the first round matchup of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but they didn’t play like it was. A lackluster effort, combined with Lundqvist not being on top of his game sent the Rangers off the ice with a 4-1 loss. The Canadiens swept the season series with the win.
After a strong start to the first period, the Canadiens took a 1-0 lead a little over half the period in. Off a faceoff, Shea Weber took a shot that was deflected in front by Adam Clendening. The original shot was going wide, but Clendening accidentally deflected it past Lundqvist.
The Canadiens had a second quality chance with about five minutes left in the opening period. The puck trickled behind Lundqvist and in, but the whistle had already blown, so it stood only at a 1-0 lead.
Pavel Buchnevich took a shot that looked similar to the one he took in Boston that had put the Rangers up 1-0, but this time he hit the crossbar. The rebound came out far but was deflected away, and the Rangers knew they had to get better heading into the second period.
The first few minutes of the second period were again dominated by the Canadiens, but the Rangers soon started to become offensive. Hayes started the rushes when he gave the puck to Pirri, but Pirri couldn’t get the puck in the empty side of the net.
The Canadiens took advantage of Lehkonen coming off the bench on a line change and went up 2-0. The Rangers had been playing well, but one shift turned it back in the Canadiens’ favor. Lundqvist tried to play the puck to the corner, but the Canadiens retrieved it and created a 2 on 0 down low. The puck got passed to Lehkonen, and he snapped it past Lundqvist.
Buchnevich and Nash started another series of rushes for the Rangers when they skated down on a two on one but didn’t capitalize. J.T. Miller came in on a short breakaway, but the puck was poke-checked away from him. Vesey then got a quality chance at the side of the net.
Skjei’s stick caught Lundqvist in the face, and he seemed shaken up. Play continued, and it seemed to be in slow motion, as the Canadiens took a shot that Andrew Shaw collected the rebound of. Shaw went around the net, and Lundqvist had absolutely no idea where the puck was. He stayed on the wrong side of the net as Shaw wrapped the puck around easily for a 3-0 lead. Lundqvist only knew he had scored after play had stopped and looked very confused afterwards.
The third period started out fast for the Rangers, even though Lundqvist had to make three difficult saves on Pacioretty to start. Chris Kreider went down the other way and got his own rebound, which he put over the shoulder of Price to cut the lead to 3-1.
Lindberg came in on a breakaway but Price came up with a big save, as the Rangers continued to make a push. Unfortunately, the Canadiens found a way at 6:48 of the third period to go up
4-1 on another faceoff win. Joride Benn, who was recently traded to the Habs took a snap shot that went by Lundqvist to help his team.
Gallagher interfered with Lundqvist, and Staal retaliated, so they both got minor penalties. Then, Skjei took a penalty that put the Canadiens on the power play with just over two minutes left in the game, and the Rangers killed it.
Overall, the Rangers needed to play better in every aspect of the game. They needed to get passes through the neutral zone, play better in front of Lundqvist, and get stronger shots on Carey Price. He’s a tough goaltender to beat, but the shots the Rangers took wouldn’t cut it, and they won’t come playoff time…against any team.
One possible explanation for the Rangers’ recent play is that they are purposefully trying to stay in fourth place. Derek Stepan had mentioned that it is the “kiss of death” if a team tries to pick their playoff spot, but the way the Rangers are playing now, it doesn’t look like they’re taking his advice.
Their next game is Monday, March 6th, against the Tampa Bay Lightning as they start their four game road trip. The Rangers have been excellent on the road this season, currently holding first place in the League in road wins. Hopefully, they will continue that, as they seek these much-needed points in the final stretch of the regular season.
Posted on March 5, 2017, in Game Recaps and tagged Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, New York Rangers blog, NYR, NYR blog, Rangers, Rangers blog, Rangers recap. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.