The biggest win in this dying era of New York Rangers hockey was perhaps their 2014 Eastern Conference Finals triumph over the Montreal Canadians.
It’s appropriate, them, that the era could end with a showdown with Montreal, going down tonight at Bell Centre (7:30 PM, MSG2).
The Rangers (27-28-5), who made the first of what’s expected to be several trade deadline deals earlier this week by trading Nick Holden to Boston, have had three days to stew over their latest defeat, a 7-4 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday at Madison Square Garden. The team kept pace in a back and forth affair in the early going, keeping it a 4-4 game into the second period. Peter Holland had the Rangers’ last goal, his first as a New Yorker. However, three unanswered Philadelphia goals sealed the Rangers’ fate, as MSG grew restless as the situation became more dire. The Rangers now enter tonight winless in their past four, part of a 2-8-0 stretch to enter February.
Montreal (22-29-8) has struggled all season, as they too appear to be playing out the stretch. They’re likewise coming off a loss to the Flyers, dropping a 3-2 overtime decision on Tuesday night. They had two separate leads, going up 1-0 in the first period thanks to Jeff Petry, and 2-1 in the third thanks to Paul Byron. However, Jakub Voracek not only tied the game in the penultimate minute of regulation, but wound up winning it in overtime, giving the Flyers a 3-2 win.
This will be the third and final meeting between the Original Six foes this season, with the teams splitting their two games in October. The Rangers got theirs in a 2-0 win at MSG, with Mika Zibanejad and Brady Skjei tallying the goals. Henrik Lundqvist made 34 saves in victory. Montreal won at home 5-4 on October 28.
Rick Nash and Michael Grabner, two of the Rangers top scorers and recent headliners of potential trades, will not play tonight, each being held out for precautionary reasons with deals possibly looming. In addition, Alexandar Georgiev will make his NHL debut in net for the Rangers.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490