NHL Game Summary - NY Rangers at Montreal
(Tuesday, March 27th)
Final Score: Montreal 6, NY Rangers 4
Montreal, QC (Sports Network) - Alex Kovalev's pair of goals and Saku Koivu's four assists led the way as Montreal held off a late rally to top New York, 6-4 at Bell Centre.
Andrei Markov had two assists for the Canadiens, who have won five in a row overall and seven straight on home ice. Steve Begin, Michael Ryder, Tomas Plekanec and Mark Streit also lit the lamp for the Habs.
Jaroslav Halak improved to 8-4-0 with a 28-save performance.
Michael Nylander, Paul Mara, Thomas Pock and Marek Malik scored for the Rangers, who saw their season-high five-game win streak come to an end.
Henrik Lundqvist was burned for four goals on 15 shots in nearly half of regulation time. Steven Valiquette took the loss in relief, stopping eight- of-10 shots over the remainder of the contest.
New York got within two goals when Pock's right point floater dipped just below Halak's shoulder and the crossbar 6:23 into the third. It was a 5-4 game at 7:38 when Malik's knuckling wrister from the point deflected off a Canadiens skater and squirted through Halak.
Streit added an insurance goal on a left-circle bullet with 6:56 to play, and the Habs protected the lead expertly to come away with a crucial win.
"It was a playoff game for us all right, a must win," said Koivu. "We felt in the first 15 minutes that the crowd was into it, and there was a couple of good hits. There are a lot of good things in the last couple of games that we can build on. We had to get the win tonight."
Montreal leaped over the New York Islanders and Carolina, who both lost on Tuesday, to gain eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 86 points.
The Rangers took a lead 1-0 with a two-man advantage goal with 8:05 left in the first. Brendan Shanahan's shot from just below the circles was stopped by Halak, but the rebound kicked to Nylander at left side of the net for a goal.
Mara added his fifth of the season on a left point blast and a 2-0 New York advantage 45 seconds before intermission.
The Canadiens finally began to assert themselves in the offensive zone at the start of the second period, and the work paid off with a five-goal burst.
Kovalev cut Montreal's deficit to 2-1 with a power-play goal at 2:17 while taking a stick in his eye just as he shot the puck into the cage. Begin then pumped one from the left circle by Lundqvist low on the far side 32 seconds later, and the game was knotted, 2-2.
Ryder made it 3-2 at 4:36 when he lifted the puck high to the far side from the top of the left circle.
When Plekanec finished a 3-on-2 break by depositing his own rebound at 9:47, Lundqvist exited the game in favor of Valiquette, but the Canadiens continued to pour it on.
Montreal opened up a 5-2 advantage with another power-play score at 14:09 when Koivu's centering feed deflected off Kovalev in the crease and bounced in. A review confirmed the goal, Kovalev's second of the night.
"Everything we've been doing up to this time fell short. We tried," said Rangers head coach Tom Renney. "It's a team that's out of gas, quite honestly. We've had our foot on the gas pedal for a long time. They got the first goal and then they were really coming on strong in the second."
The Rangers have won two of three meetings this season...There were 17 penalties whistled in the contest, nine to the Canadiens...Montreal hosts Ottawa on Friday, and the Rangers are off until Saturday when they travel to Philadelphia.
03/27 22:56:39 ET