Montreal 4, New York 3 (OT):
- Good uptempo start by the Habs, 4th line, according to Julien, gives his offence more depth (it doesn't), but they had a decent first shot.
- Gallagher breaks Lundqvist's stick in half, and a minute later, Petry snaps home the Habs first playoff goal, a beauty top corner. Canadiens hard forecheck and physical work in the corner finally pays off. Gallagher looks fantastic first 3 shifts out of the gate. 1-0 Montreal. Lundqvist is furious, likely because Gallagher wasn't called for slashing.
- Thumping game first 8 minutes, hard hits in the corners, each team appears to have the same strategy - hard forecheck, finish hard hits, get traffic in front of the nets.
- Very clear the Rangers 4th line is miles better than the Habs 4th, as they hammer the Habs deep in their zone, and nearly tie the game. Martinsen and Ott way out of their depth again.
- Plekanec line is on fire - Gallagher and Byron continue fearless and ferocious play generating some great scoring chances. Lundqvist again looking scrambly in goal, much like the 1st period of game 1.
- Paul Byron on a breakaway stoned by Lundqvist. Huge save their. Rangers down 2-0 have minimal hopes of recover against Carey Price. Byron is gonna bury one of these chances eventually.
- Shaw with a hard pass up the boards that's fumbled by Beaulieu who flops to try to stop the puck, giving Grabner a breakaway. Unlike Lundqvist, Price can't make the save, and the game is tied. Habs had all of the momentum and then some up to that Rangers goal.
- Man, that Bryon miss looming large. I wonder if that might be a play we look back at later if the Habs don't win tonight.
- Byron!! He finally buries his opportunity, with Staal and Holden caught badly out of position, Byron fires a snapper top corner and it's 2-1. That's two corner shots that Lundqvist can't stop. Have the Canadiens found a weak spot? Let's see if they keep aiming there.
- Galchenyuk now with Byron and Plekanec! But it's not a line juggling as reward for Galchenyuk, Gallagher appears to have been injured, and is getting attention on the bench.
- Pacioretty, you gotta shoot that puck. 25 feet top circle, elects to pass over to Radulov. Max seems more inclined to pass so far this series. He's a sniper - surely he knows that. So his decision making with the puck has been somewhat puzzling.
- Danault injured? We knew that this game was going to be physical, but has it taken two of the Canadiens' top 6 forwards?
- Gallagher back on the ice, long enough to take a slash from McDonagh. Refs are gonna let 'em play.
- Jordie Benn has been caught badly a couple of times this period, Zuccarello with a glorious last second chance after Benn inexplicably pinches forward and gets caught in the neutral zone. Price with an excellent stop to save the day, but that's the kind of mistake that the Canadiens can ill-afford to make if they want to advance in the playoffs.
- All in all, a fast, physical and very entertaining opening period - the Canadiens definitely controlled the tempo, both teams clearly trying to wear their opponents out with hard hits. Habs still not getting the traffic in front of Lundqvist that I was hoping to see, but 2 goals is still a very good result over 20 minutes of play. The question is, can the Canadiens maintain this level, or will, as they did for game 1, recede heavily in the 2nd?
- Smith with an abolustely brutal crosscheck to the side of Shaw's head in front of Lindqvist that somehow goes unpenalized. Julien is furious, Shaw is dazed.
- Was about to post that Galchenyuk was playing with Shaw and Lehkonen, and looked very good. Maybe Julien will keep that going? Here's hoping.
- Gallagher and Byron continue to play possessed hockey. Rangers defence simply being overwhelmed by these two.
- Habs 4th line a keystone cop routine, Rangers absolutely swarm Price. That line has become a martial threat to the Canadiens post-season hopes. Some kind of intervention needs to be made, especially with respect to Marinsen, who's brutal in his own zone.
- One of the most physical and intense games involving the Montreal Canadiens that I've seen in years. These two teams are hammering each other, neither seems willing to bend.
- Danault is back for his first shift in a long while. Still not sure what the problem was. With him back, I wouldn't be surprise if Julien pushes Galchenyuk back to the 4th line again.
- Radulov with a tiny little slash on Vesey after the play that's called. So crosschecking to the head is okay. A tap to the shin pads, YOU ARE BANISHED. Really strange call.
- Habs PK continues to be one of the great understated stories of this hockey team since Julien took over. Another critical kill (off that dubious Radulov slashing call).
- Insane save by Carey Price off a one timer, and then everybody drops their gloves. Mini line-brawl going here, involving mainly Miller and Weber. Game is wild, an incredible contest to the Wednesday's game, which by comparison was a sleeper.
- Oy, Nesterov on the point at the blue line. What a mess. Habs not nearly enough screening of Lundqvist on their first powerplay. Com'on guys, it's not that hard.
- Habs come close more than a couple of times on that powerplay, perhaps another key game moment if the Rangers can find their way back to evening the score.
- Steve Ott fed a breakaway, ans promptly slams on the breaks while crossing the Rangers blue line. Is then easily stripped of the puck. It's painful to watch.
- And there is is, Nash with an unstoppable shot top corner off a bad Habs change and then some wretched zone coverage, Beaulieu makes bad error chasing an unretrievable puck of the boards which left Nash unmarked. And the game is tied.
- Where's that sizzling Arttrui Lehkonen snap shot? We could use of those before the night is over. We haven't really seen one all series.
- Smith, what a good. He may have gotten away with crosschecking Shaw in the head, but he doesn't get away from roughing up Gallagher, gifting the Habs a big powerplay opportunity. Dumb, dumb, dumb play by Smith.
- Weber still sitting in the box from a fighting major, meaning he's missed both Canadiens' powerplay chances.
- Andrew Shaw has been wretched on the powerplay this series. There are other options at hand for Julien. Let's see if he uses one.
- Gallagher has been ridiculous with puck retrievals tonight. He simply will not be denied that puck. Julien has him playing on the Habs 2nd powerplay line. He more than deserves to be on the first.
- Julien has Martinsen/Ott/King line now. Seems like Galchenyuk has been relocated from the basement.
- Why is Martinsen STILL out there? He plays through his shift, and the Rangers take full advantage, as a shot towards the net going wide is defected home by Zuccarello. Rangers take the lead.
- There is no way you could have convinced me before the series, during game one, and tonight, that Micheal McCarron or even Torrey Mitchell aren't better options that Martinsen.
- Habs need Alex Radulov to score goals, not get sent to the penalty box for careless penalties. What a killer. These minors are eventually going to burn this team. It's only a matter of time.
- Massively disappointing 2nd period for the Habs, who didn't play any worse then their opponents, but made critical defensive errors that the Rangers were more than happy to capitalize on. Now the Canadiens find themselves down a goal with 20 minutes left in a game they must win if they're to have realistic expectations. Buckle up, this is a nitty gritty as hockey gets.
- So the Habs need their leaders, including the guys who are expected to score, to step up. Pacioretty, Radulov and Danault. Lehkonen, even. Each of those three has been very quiet tonight, if not the whole series. So we're all looking their way.
- Early powerplay for the Habs here, and they'll have Weber at the line for the first time tonight. Let's see if that pays off.
- Pacioretty. Shot is lacking, passing is frequently off the mark. Lot of unforced errors happening with his game at about the worst possible time.
- Just a tough, tough, tough night for Beaulieu. Bad passing at the line on the powerplay, and defensive mistakes are all adding up and taking a significant toll on his team's chances of winning.
- Plekanec line hast stepped it up ig time tonight - is this inspiring the others who haven't delivered? Not seeing it. 1st line still looks lost. Time is running out. 13 minutes left.
- Is there a way of just playing Gallagher and Byron every shift for the rest of the night? If the rest of this teammates where playing as well, this game would be a Habs romp.
- Wow, Grabner sneaks behind Markov and Weber and gets a big-time breakaway. That's a terrible defensive mistake. Habs incredibly lucky to still be only one goal down.
- Another great shift by the Plekanec line. What a brave performance by these three warriors. They're doing everything possible to give their team a shot.
- Oh god, Petry, You'll never get a better shot of tying up a Stanley Cup playoff game. From 10 feet out, how did you miss?
- Habs absolutely full-throttle hard push with 6 minutes left. Rangers are just barely hanging on. Canadiens know it's do or die for their season right here.
- Carey Price might be the missed element from tonight's game - none of the goals scored on him were his fault. But since the Rangers took the lead, he's stopped everything directed his way, giving his team at least a shot.
- Max. It's gotta be Max who ties this up. He's been the leader all year, if anyone going to do it, it's him.
- Habs crazy zone pressure, they've got total puck control in the New York zone, the Rangers are chaotically scrambling for their lives. Lundqvist in a shooting gallery. Can he hold on for 3 more minutes? I don't see how this is possible.
- PLEKANEC. WITH 17 SECONDS LEFT STEPS UP AND DELIVERS. Rangers somehow blow three glorious opportunities to clear the zone, Weber with two fantastic desperation plays to keep the puck inside. And Plekanec. A remarkable night for Plecks, with his linemates Gallagher and Byron, only this time, it's Radulov with the perfect feed that Plekanec redirects past Lundqvist to save, at least for now, the Habs season.
- We're headed to OT. Well, I'm spent. And this is just game 2 of the 1st round. What an incredible night by the Habs 2nd line, they've more than proved their playoff mettle. Now it's someone else's turn to be heroic. Pacioretty, Danault, Shaw, Weber or Lehkonen. Your chance awaits.
- Heros? I'll take Pacioretty again, and for the Rangers, Zibanejad.
- Really strong shift by the Danault line. Pacioretty and Radulov appear to have found some mojo. Will that translate into a game winner?
- Jeff Petry AGAIN whiffs with the puck in an ideal shooting spot, likely a goal missed. Crazy unlucky.
- Kreider, HAH. Hacks Ott's stick in two right in front of the official, Habs to the powerplay! Hang on to your hats.
- Julien makes an adjustment, stripping Shaw off the 1st line, putting Plekanec on instead. We approve.
- Habs are massively dominating this OT - almost all the action in the Rangers zone. Canadiens obviously feeding off the late tying goal, they're absolutely determined to win this. Rangers just hanging on for dear life, hoping the storm will somehow pass.
- Massively one-sided OT in Habs favour. How the Rangers haven't lost is a miracle. If New York wins this, my heart will be left in a thousand pieces.
- 8:33 left, game seems to be settling in, Habs incredible pressure seems to be ebbing a bit (it had to end eventually). Perhaps this is the break in the storm the Rangers were waiting for. After having so many chances to win this game, maybe the Habs have missed their window of opportunity?
- Still haven't seen a whole lot of the Danault line this OT - Julien riding the Plekanec and Shaw line pretty hard. That first line should have more legs to give - and they've looked pretty dangerous at times.
- Danault absolutely robbed by a Lundqvist pad save with Danrult's one-timer just 15 feet away. Another golden chance missed.
- Rangres getting chances now, Price having to scramble. The game is starting to tilt the other direction. Habs need to find that gear again.
- Another bad shift by the 4th line, Martinsen et al, and Vecey is absolutely robbed by Price coming across to stop the one-timer. Rangers have now taken control of the momentum. It was inevitable, but it's not being helped by Julien deploying that awful 4th.
- 4th line sent out again, guess what? Rangers nearly score. And now they ice the puck, and are stuck out there. Claude, I know you're trying to give your troops a breather, but this late in OT, it makes no sense putting that line out.
- RADULOV DELIVERS. What an incredible play by Max Pacioretty with a fantastic back check at centre ice, then bringing the puck back deep to help the Habs set up the game winner. The season is saved by the guys we hoped an needed to step up and deliver. What a night, and what an incredible hockey game.
GAME 2 PREVIEW:
FULL THRUSTERS WARP SPEED FORWARD ASSISTANT COACH KIRK! WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE
The Montreal Canadiens host the New York Rangers in game two of an Eastern Conference quarter final. The Canadiens face a must-win situation with New York looking to grab a stranglehold 2-0 heading back to their home rink.
The Canadiens, to the great astonishment of even the most casual followers, will not make any lineup adjustments tonight. This in the face of a 2-0 loss in game one Wednesday night, where the Habs offence, which stormed out of the gate in the 1st period but failed to put the puck past Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, stumbled for the final two period on their way to a defeat.
So the Habs, in desperate search for a goal - any goal, will again start Alex Galchenyuk, the once first line centre heir apparent, along side Andreas Martinsen and Steve Ott on the Canadiens 4th line. That unit, which had a strong 1st period (much like the rest of the team) stumbled badly through the 2nd and 3rd period, where hard work by Galchenyuk to generate scoring opportunities around Lundqvist were largely fumbled by his linemates.
The Rangers unsurprisingly will also keep the same lineup and combinations for tonight's contest. This in light of strong defensive performance by New York after they sustained the Habs early game onslaught. The two brightest lights on the Rangers defence was Brady Skjei and Brendan Smith, who normally represent New Yorks' 3rd line pairing. Wednesday night, they played everything like a top-line unit.
With Julien sticking to a "big" lineup, one would expect the Canadiens, who are in a slightly desperate situation, to play an especially physical game tonight, if only to find a way of creating havoc amongst the Rangers defenders, who played exceptionally well in the 2nd and 3rd periods of game 1. Also look for the Habs to create more traffic in front of Lundqvist, who had far too many clear views of Habs shots Wednesday night. Lundqvist might be past prime age, but if he's got a clear vision of nearly every shot attempt, the Habs will continue to struggle offensively.
Here are the presumed lines for tonight's game. For New York:
Chris Kredier - Derek Stepan - Mars Zuccarello
Jimmy Vesey - Mike Zibanejad - Rick Nash
Michael Grabner - Keven Hayes - J.T. Miller
Tanner Glass - Oscar Lindberg - Jesper Fast
Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Marcc Staal - Nick Holden
Brady Skjei - Brendan Smith
And for the Canadiens:
Max Pacioretty - Phillip Danault - Alexander Radulov
Paul Byron - Tomas Plekanec - Brendan Gallagher
Dwight King - Andrew Shaw - Artturi Lehkonen
Alex Galchenyuk - Steve Ott - Andreas Martinsen
Andrei Markov - Shea Weber
Jordie Benn - Jeff Petry
Nathan Beaulieu - Nikita Nesterov
Alexei Emelin, who continues to deal with an undisclosed injury, won't play tonight, and might not even travel to New York this weekend. So it's likely Nesterov (and perhaps) Brandon Davidson on the 3rd line for the forseeable future.
Carey Price vs. Henrik Lundqvist. Puck drops at the Bell Center at 7:10, EST.