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Rangers, Habs close season in meeting of playoff-bound clubs
(SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of playoff teams meet Saturday night at the Bell Centre, as the Montreal Canadiens host the New York Rangers in the regular- season finale for both clubs.
While the Rangers are locked into the Metropolitan Division's second spot, the Canadiens are still fighting for home-ice advantage in their upcoming first- round series against Tampa Bay. However, they fell a point back of the Lightning, who defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night, with one game left for both teams.
Tampa Bay is idle on Saturday before visiting the Washington Capitals on Sunday.
New York, meanwhile, knows it will open the first round at home, but isn't certain if it will be against the Columbus Blue Jackets or Philadelphia Flyers, who are still battling for third place in the Metro.
The Habs are aiming to bounce back on Saturday after suffering a second straight loss in Thursday's home test against the New York Islanders. Montreal had won seven of eight before going 0-1-1 over its last two games against Chicago and the Islanders.
After losing a 3-2 overtime decision Wednesday in Chicago, Montreal was shut out the following night by the visiting Isles. The Canadiens only fired 19 shots on net in the 2-0 loss and Evgeni Nabokov stopped every one for his fourth shutout of the season.
Carey Price turned aside 28-of-30 shots for the Canadiens, who were blanked for the first time since a 4-0 loss in San Jose on March 8.
"It was a bad performance from our team. We didn't play a good game," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said.
Thursday's setback was just the second in six home games for Montreal, which is 22-13-5 at the Bell Centre.
Montreal announced Friday that forward Alex Galchenyuk will miss the first round of the playoffs due to a lower-body injury suffered in Wednesday's game against the Blackhawks. The 20-year-old has 13 goals and 31 points in 65 games this season.
Habs forward Lars Eller has missed the last two games due to illness and is questionable for Saturday's regular-season finale.
The Rangers have won two straight and clinched second place in the Metro with Thursday's home win over the Buffalo Sabres. The victory gave New York a 9-2-1 record over its last 12 games.
Rick Nash's goal with 1:42 left to play lifted the Blueshirts to the 2-1 decision over the Sabres. Nash one-timed a Martin St. Louis feed past Buffalo goaltender Matt Hackett for the win.
Henrik Lundqvist did his part by stopping 23-of-24 shots and Benoit Pouliot also scored to help the Rangers overcome a 1-0 deficit late in the second period.
After a scoreless first period, both teams tallied once in the second stanza despite New York holding a lopsided 18-1 edge in shots during the middle period.
"We showed some patience, it's not an easy game," Lundqvist remarked. "It felt like they came out pretty good, but after that they were just waiting for something good to happen to them and we took over the game."
The win gave New York a 20-17-4 regular-season record at Madison Square Garden. The club is 25-14-1 as the road team in 2013-14.
The Canadiens and Rangers have split two meetings so far this season, with each club posting a regulation victory on the road. New York halted a four- game overall skid in the series with a 1-0 win at Montreal on Nov. 16 and also snapped an eight-game slide at the Bell Centre.
04/12 09:45:51 ET
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