It wouldn’t be a total shocker if he tweaked the lineup, too, as he has on several occasions since taking over as coach on February 14. Those games are exciting to watch and to analyze. You can bet that each team was pleased to get offensive contributions from the bottom of their lineups.
Montreal is 49-27-9 overall and 24-14-4 on the road while the Rangers are 49-29-7 overall and 21-17-4 at home.
Through much of the first two games and essentially all of Game 3, Montreal forced NY into neutral-zone dumps, most of which were cleared easily. Nathan Beaulieu then fulfilled his average of at least one egregious turnover per game by coughing up the puck to Nash in his own end. Oh, and there’s also Steve Ott violently kicking his skate blades at Mats Zuccarello’s back/legs after a slight scrum by the Montreal bench. Friday night’s game was playoff hockey at its best – great goaltending, physical play, high-end skill and very emotional moments.
When there was uproar about the Canadiens’ offence being shutout in Game 1, only one seeing-eye Tanner Glass backhand separated them from NY.
“We’re not overthinking this game, we know our strengths, we know what we need to do to win and our whole focus is on that”, Montreal head coach Claude Julien said. The old adage “you win as a team, you lose as a team” has never been more valid. I’m saying we need to establish a forecheck and keep the puck and make them defend.
Markov and Weber not only recorded abysmal Corsi for of 31.25% and 32.14% respectively, they allowed significant volumes of shot attempts in the process. These teams have played to the under in both games so far and this one figures to be another tight, low scoring affair as the goalies have put on a clinic thus far.
The tie was broken early in the second period, as Rick Nash finished off a nice play with help from captain Ryan McDonagh.
Lundqvist, who now has a 1.89 goals-against average and.944 save percentage in the series, had his toughest stops occur on Brendan Gallagher and Andrew Shaw in the first, and on an Alex Galchenyuk shot in the third where the NY goaltender turned to find the puck alongside the far post. It resulted in a 2-1 win in favor of the good guys, with the series now deadlocked at 2-2.
Regardless of Rangers domination, it was still a one-goal lead heading into the third as the hosts missed out on an opportunity to put the game away early. “I didn’t really think at the time that was going to be the difference”.
This is becoming a pattern.
The score would hold up, and the Rangers and Canadiens are now tied at two games apiece.
The Montreal also used hitting as a way to create a scoring chances.
From the opening face-off, the Rangers served notice that they would not surrender easily. How Price, and by extension the Canadiens’ defense, weathers that storm in the first period could be an indicator of how this game goes. They have 42 combined (20 high danger) during any other time in the game, including overtime. “That’s the attractive thing about playoff hockey is a series can change on a dime”.
Specialty items: The Canadiens’ penalty-killing unit is still ideal after four games.
On a seemingly innocuous play, Montreal forward Andrew Shaw went to chip the puck out and Girardi had a good chance to hold the blue line, with the forwards cycling deep.