The crowds during Game 3 of the New York Rangers’ playoff series with the Montreal Canadiens, a 3-1 loss that was even worse than the score indicated, were criticized for their silence, with the exception of boos late in the game.
But, in something that really shouldn’t surprise anyone, those gathered at Madison Square Garden for Game 4 provided the building’s trademark volume when the Rangers played to the level they’ve shown they’re capable of for the majority of the season.
Jesper Fast opened the scoring for the game in the first period before Rick Nash broke a tie with game winning goal in the second, and the Rangers earned a 2-1 win at MSG, evening their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series with Montreal.
Desperate for a good showing in what was a de facto must-win game, the Rangers were again bailed out early by the play of Henrik Lundqvist. The longtime Ranger tender made some key saves, most notably a breakaway chance by Andrew Shaw. Lundqvist‘s resilience was partially paid off by Fast’s goal, scored unassisted off an Andrei Markov turnover. It was Fast’s first playoff goal since Game 3 of the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals, and first overall since March 28 in San Jose. Montreal, however, tied it before the period let out, as Torrey Mitchell capitalized on a 2-on-1 firing the puck into an open net after a savvy pass from Shea Weber. Replays showed that Montreal had too many men on the ice when the goal was scored, but no call was made, allowing the Canadiens to keep the tie.
Despite allowing 12 shots in the first period, the Rangers defense tightened up, allowing the same tally over the next two periods combined. They eventually got the score they needed via Nash, who scored his second goal of the series, off an assist from Ryan McDonagh. The Rangers’ penalty kill, a major problem in Game 3, had a clean slate on Tuesday, killing off a trio of infractions.
Though Montreal came close, including hitting a post in the late stages, the Rangers, unlike Game 2, were able to close out the game, ending their six-game postseason losing streak at MSG. Ironically, their past four postseason wins at MSG have all come by a 2-1 final.
Now forced into a best two-of-three set, the Rangers will return to Bell Centre on Thursday evening for Game 5 (7:00, MSG/USA).
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490