After back to back overtime losses, the New York Rangers looked to turn things around against the Montreal Canadiens at Madison Square Garden. Tonight, 21 year old Libor Hajek, who was acquired from the Lighting last season, makes his Ranger debut. Henrik Lundqvist was in the net for the Rangers while Carey Price got the start for the Canadiens.
The Rangers struck first when Brady Skjei took a wrist shot from the point that was deflected past Carey Price by Vladislav Namestnikov. The goal came just under five minutes into the first period and was also assisted by Kevin Shattenkirk. The Rangers continued to dominate play after the early goal, as Namestnikov had another great deflection that missed wide two minutes later. The Rangers fourth line continued to impress, As Connor Brickley created one of the best chances of the period but was stuffed by Price. Later, Chris Kreider took a holding penalty with five and a half minutes left but the Canadiens couldn’t capitalize as the Rangers went into the second period up one.
Skjei almost scored a minute into the second period but was denied in close by Price. A few seconds after, Jesper Fast drew a cross-check behind the net. Price made another incredible save after the penalty ended on Namestnikov. The Canadiens then tied it up with twelve and a half minutes left when the puck took a big bounce of the boards behind net, allowing Tomas Tatar to slide it across the crease where Brendan Gallagher finished it. Two minutes later the Rangers were robbed by Price once again as he made a glove save on Buchnevich in between the circles. Then, with just over five minutes left, the Canadiens benefitted from another big bounce behind the net as it sprung Joel Armia on a breakaway where he finished over a diving Hank. Hank has redemption though, stuffing a breakaway with three minutes left to keep the deficit at one.
Three minutes into the third period, Fast recieved a puck from behind the net while sitting in between the circles but was stuffed by Price. The Canadiens immediately recovered the puck and turned up ice, creating a two on one. Armia decided to take it himself, and finished with a near post wrist shot. After an extended dry spell, the Rangers finally broke through with just over two minutes left, when newly acquired Brendan Lemieux finished a loose puck in front that has just bounced off of Fast’s skate. This wasn’t enough though, as Armia iced the game two minutes later with an open net goal to complete his hat trick.
Carey Price showed glimpses of his Vezina winning season as he shined in the Canadiens win as Madison Square Garden. In a game that was relatively even, Price was the difference as he made impressive saves all night. Despite a holding penalty, Hajek played well in his Ranger debut as he made some quality defensive plays throughout his 17 minutes of ice time. The Rangers are in action again on Sunday as they take on the Capitals back at MSG.