NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, May 19th
(All times Eastern)
New York Rangers (1-0) at Montreal Canadiens (0-1), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Montreal Canadiens hope to regroup after a
humiliating defeat in the opener of the Eastern Conference finals when they
host the New York Rangers in Monday's Game 2 battle from the Bell Centre.
Montreal, however, will have to get by for the remainder of the series without
star goaltender Carey Price, who didn't come out for the third period in
Saturday's 7-2 loss.
Price appeared to be shaken up after getting the worst of a collision with New
York's Chris Kreider in the second period of Saturday's rout. Although
Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien initially said he pulled the goaltender
to try and rally his team, it is now obvious that wasn't exactly the case.
"Carey Price will not be available tonight, nor for the rest of that series,"
Therrien revealed Monday morning via his team's official Twitter feed.
Price's injury means Peter Budaj now assumes the role of No. 1 goaltender for
the Canadiens. The 31-year-old Slovakian went 10-8-3 with a 2.51 goals against
average and .909 save percentage in 24 games this season for Montreal. Budaj,
who allowed three goals on eight shots in the third period on Saturday, is 0-2
with a 5.13 GAA and .843 save percentage in seven career playoff appearances.
Price was pulled after 40 minutes on Saturday and yielded four goals on 20
shots. He has a 2.35 GAA and .919 save percentage in 12 postseason tilts this
The Canadiens now have to solve a red-hot Rangers team without the services of
their star netminder, but Therrien believes his club is resilient enough to
overcome the loss.
"We've lost our best player, but we've faced adversity this year already,"
The Rangers, who were down 3-1 to Pittsburgh in the conference semifinals
before rallying for the series win, posted their fourth straight victory with
their trouncing of the Habs.
This is the 15th all-time playoff series between these Original Six foes, but
Saturday's blowout marked New York's largest margin of victory against
Montreal in a postseason game. The seven goals also set a playoff record for
the Rangers against the Habs, who had allowed six goals to New York twice
before in the playoffs (Game 4, 1972 quarterfinals; Game 4, 1974
With the lopsided road victory, New York also became the first team to score
at least seven goals in Game 1 of a conference final since Chicago posted an
8-2 win over Edmonton in the 1992 Campbell Conference series.
Ryan McDonagh led New York's scoring blitz with a goal and three assists, with
Mats Zuccarello tallying once and adding two helpers to help make Henrik
Lundqvist's first win in Montreal since 2009 a rather effortless one.
Even the previously slumping Rick Nash got into the act for the Rangers,
potting his first goal of these playoffs while also contributing an assist.
Kreider, Derek Stepan and Martin St. Louis finished with a goal and an assist
as well. Lundqvist, 0-3-1 with a 4.63 goals against average in his last four
starts at Bell Centre, needed to make just 20 saves to end his recent
struggles at the venue.
"I haven't won too many games in this building, so it's good to get a great
start," said Lundqvist afterward. "They have a lot of speed, but our defenders
blocked key shots. We played a smart game."
Lars Eller had a goal and an assist in the loss, the Canadiens' most lopsided
one since an 8-2 setback to Carolina in Game 6 of the 2002 East semifinals.
Rene Bourque also scored for a Montreal squad that will attempt to bounce back
Monday before the series shifts to New York for Games 3 and 4. Game 3 is
scheduled for Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
"We'll put that game behind us now and move forward, but that's a good
lesson," Therrien remarked.
Price entered the matchup with the superior head-to-head numbers between the
star netminders, having stopped 74-of-75 shots in two wins over New York
during the regular season and pitching a shutout opposite Lundqvist in leading
Canada to victory in the gold medal game of the Sochi Olympics. However,
Saturday's matchup told a different story, as New York appeared to be the
faster and sharper in all aspects of the game.
"We weren't ready for this game," said a frustrated Therrien. "There were
offensive errors and some defensive errors as well. "We were not sharp. We
weren't ready mentally or physically to compete in this game, and that's the
result that you saw."
The Rangers improved to 8-2-0 in these playoffs when scoring first, while
Montreal is 1-4-0 when allowing the initial goal.
It wasn't all good news for New York, however, as the club lost forward Derick
Brassard early in the first period after taking a hard hit from Montreal
defenseman Mike Weaver. Brassard only played two shifts for 35 seconds of ice
time before leaving the game for good.
Fourth-line center Dominic Moore was pressed into an increased role following
the injury, but Brassard hopes he can return for Game 2.
"It's nothing serious, I'm day-to-day," said Brassard. "Hopefully I'll be
ready to play on Monday."
In other news for New York, the entire Rangers team spent Sunday's off day
attending the funeral of St. Louis' mother, France, who died of a heart attack
on May 8.
"It was good for us to be there for him, so today was a lot less about hockey
and a lot more about being there for (Marty) and his family," said Rangers
defenseman Marc Staal.
This best-of-seven series is the first postseason encounter between these
Original Six rivals since the opening round of the 1996 playoffs when New York
won in six games. The clubs have played 14 playoff series and each club has
won seven times, although Montreal earned the biggest victory when it beat the
Rangers in the 1979 Cup Finals.
Both teams are attempting to get back to the Cup Finals for the first time
since the 1990s. Montreal was the last team based in Canada to win it all in
1993, but has yet to return to the Cup Finals, and the Rangers are aiming to
get back to the final stage for the first time since winning their last
championship in 1994.
05/19 11:51:22 ET
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