No Lundqvist. No problem. At least that’s the case tonight for the Rangers, who got a big win in Montreal. For the first time in three and a half years, they won at Molson Centre. Thanks to 22 saves from rookie Cam Talbot, the Rangers shutout the Canadiens 1-0. It was an important bounce back victory following Tuesday’s disappointment. Back over .500 (10-9-0), the Blueshirts have won four of five climbing back into third in the Metro.
They got it done with relentless pursuit of the puck. This wasn’t your dull 1-0 shutout. It was a game in which the Rangers kept pushing the pace. That was the key to ending an eight-game losing streak at Bell Centre. The schedule helped with the Habs obviously tired from travel after edging the Blue Jackets in a shootout Friday night. In this league, you have to take advantage when you can. Credit Alain Vigneault’s club for doing so. They gave a strong effort outshooting the Canadiens 34-22.
Carey Price was the only reason it was close. A great candidate to start for Team Canada, he showed why making several big stops keeping his team in it. He finished with 33 saves. That included a couple of ridiculous glove stops with one coming late on Brad Richards off a perfectly executed two on one rush with underrated defenseman Anton Stralman. Stralman hasn’t put up gaudy offensive numbers so far entering with only two assists. However, his defense has been stellar since being paired with Marc Staal. When Staal gets caught taking chances, Stralman is back defensively. There’s a reason he’s on the plus side of the ledger.
As for Richards, he had a good night setting up the Rangers’ only goal. It came as a five on three power play expired. After struggling to get much done, they finally got set up. Richards worked a give and go with Derek Stepan and then one-timed one from the left circle past Price 5:25 into the second. At that point, the Montreal goalie had been impenetrable stopping everything including Chris Kreider, who was flying all night. Originally, Richards was credited with the power play goal. But it was later changed to Ryan Callahan, who stood in front and got a piece of it. Four of his six markers have come on the man-advantage. It was the only way they were beating Price, who was sensational.
After a feeling out process early, the Rangers began to carry the play in the first outshooting the Canadiens 15-7. There weren’t many penalties but they did kill off an early Stepan hook that prevented Max Pacioretty from a clean breakaway. They cashed in during the second when Pacioretty tripped up Carl Hagelin. That gave them the one opportunity they needed. With Raphael Diaz out of the box, Callahan converted Richards’ one-time blast.
It wasn’t dull with Kreider battling hard against P.K. Subban during one shift. A strong forecheck kept the play alive until Subban faked like he was hi-sticked suckering the refs into calling it with under three minutes left. Sometimes, I really can’t stand Subban. It was punkish. At least the Rangers killed it maintaining a 1-0 lead thru two.
With Dominic Moore back, Vigneault trusted the fourth line enough giving them regular shifts. That included ex-Hab Benoit Pouliot, who at least showed a pulse. J.T. Miller had a few noticeable shifts that should endear him to the coaching staff. He failed to get a puck deep once protecting the lead. Those are instances where he must be careful.
Unable to extend their lead, the Rangers continued to attack and make the Canadiens work extremely hard. The line of Stepan, Kreider and Mats Zuccarello buzzed but couldn’t get one. Vigneault went to a checking line of Brian Boyle, Derick Brassard and Derek Dorsett. Dorsett, who near the end of the second made a huge block of a Subban shot- has become a tireless worker. Not much different from Brandon Prust, who was on the opposite side. If only Dorsett got rewarded more for his effort. Brassard has scary moments with the puck but other shifts where he’s active. As for Boyle, he was strong defensively and dominant in the faceoff circle going 12 for 16. The Rangers as a team were 27 up and 27 down.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Justin Falk, who played a solid unspectacular game. In 17 shifts (12:11), he didn’t make any glaring mistakes and had a nice keep that to a good chance. I wonder if Vigneault will keep him in for the Kings tomorrow. What does it mean for Mike Del Zotto?
There was only one shaky sequence that had to have every Ranger fan screaming at the TV. Brassard mishandled a puck and John Moore scrambled around creating a maze in front of Talbot. It led to some dangerous chances for the Habs. However, Talbot came up with a difficult save in traffic. Similar to a shorthanded bid earlier. He only made 22 saves but was poised throughout. That’s the best thing about him. He hasn’t looked overwhelmed. When the Rangers ran the clock out, that’s five consecutive starts in which Talbot’s allowed two or less. At least in Montreal, #InCamWeTrust.
BONY 3 Stars:
3rd Star-Anton Stralman, NYR (SOG, 2 blocks, hit in 28 shifts-21:08)
2nd Star-Chris Kreider, NYR (3 SOG, 6 hits in 20 shifts-17:38)
1st Star-Carey Price, Mtl (33 saves incl. 15/15 in 3rd-deserved better)