The Rangers were unable to complete a comeback on Friday night against the Canadiens in what would be an eventual 5-2 loss. Weber and forward Artturi Lehkonen both netted two past the Rangers’ Alex Georgiev. Although the score may tell otherwise, Rangers goalie Alex Georgiev was sharp, stopping 36 out of 41 shots and salvaged multiple mistakes by the New York defense. The Blueshirts were slow and sloppy tonight, with lackluster play on both sides of the spectrum. Their defense was atrocious and their attack was subpar. Although it’s important to note, the Blueshirts did have three key players out with injuries and defenseman Tony Deangelo was given a well deserved rest. Deangelo leads the team in +\- so far this year. The Rangers did show some life at points though, and were able to cut the deficit to two late in the second frame. That would not be enough unfortunately and the Habs would tack on another to send the Quebec crowd home happy.
The first frame was one of the worst that the Rangers have played this season. The Canadiens seemed to be almost playing with the Blueshirts from the start. One of the biggest disappointments of the period was the poor play of $32 million man Brady Skjei. The young D-man single handedly allowed a goal and posted a -2 rating. In addition, the fourth line which consisted of three unfamiliar faces was out of sorts and clearly thrown off by the bright lights of the NHL. In regards to scoring, it was Montreal who took advantage. Shea Weber scored on his vintage high powered slap shot ath the 3:52 mark. The All-Star sent a blistering shot through traffic that left netminder Alexander Georgiev hopeless. The Canadiens would not stop their, and kept on the surge until New York finally gained some momentum at the halfway point. Habs goalie Carey Price, a former Hart and Vezina trophy winner, stood his ground and kept the score at 1-0. Late in the period, with only 8 seconds remaining, Brady Skjei oddly gave up on a play and Shea Weber took advantage by receiving a beautiful pass from Tomas Tatar and firing the puck top shelf. The second period was going to need to be a period that they would seriously need to rebound from.
The Rangers unsurprisingly came out playing slow, dazed, and confused. They were quickly burned by the soft mitts that are home to Artturi Lehkonen. Lehkonen lit the lamp twice in the first 5:30 of the frame to energize the Bell Centre. The boys in blue did come back strong though and put forth a valiant effort to tie the game down four goals. At the 8:20 mark, Brendan Smith led a rush and sauced the puck onto Jimmy Vesey’s tape at the right circle. Vesey made no mistake and netted home his 9th goal of the season. Only six minutes later, Ryan Strome scored his second goal as a Ranger by jamming home a loose puck in front. The Rangers would end up outshooting the Habs 17-9 in the by the second intermission
The concluding frame was uneventful but perfectly played by the Canadiens. They had a conservative outlook and outwaited the Blueshirts until New York made a mistake. And right before the 9th minute, Brady Skjei was careless and sent a puck into the stands for a delay of game penalty. Tomas Tatar, who is one of the most popular men in Montreal right now, cleaned up a juicy rebound to give Montreal a three goal lead.
After such a devastating loss, the Blueshirts only have 20 hours to regroup as they come back to the Garden to face the Winnipeg Jets at 6 pm on Sunday. Winnipeg has been unstoppable of late behind the stellar play of all-star Patrick Laine. I expect for Skjei to be a healthy scratch and Lundqvist to be in net. The Blueshirts will have to play a near perfect game to pull out the victory.