If the standings keep up, the New York Rangers will be glad that Carey Price made that spectacular save in the regular season rather than the playoffs.
Price’s save on a JT Miller shot in the dying seconds of an overtime period kept things tied, and the Montreal Canadiens outlasted the Rangers in an ensuing shootout, taking Tuesday night’s game by a 3-2 final.
Currently set to take on the Atlantic Division-leading Montreal if the playoff standings remain as they are, the Rangers (38-19-2) played competitively against the Habs, making up a pair of deficits to squeak out at least a point. They gave up an early first goal, resurfacing a troubling problem that plagued them earlier in the season, as Andrew Shaw put one in via wraparound for the 1-0 Montreal lead, but they were able to fight back with an Oscar Lindberg score that tied things up before the first 20 minutes were up.
Another early goal, this one a power play slap shot from Shea Weber put the Canadiens up again eight seconds after Nick Holden was called for interference, but Rick Nash, in one of several scoring opportunities, broke past the Montreal defense and put one past Price for the equalizer. The third period became a display of goalie greatness, as two world-class net defenders, Price and Henrik Lundqvist, traded blows, each save bigger than the last.
The greatness continued into overtime, the 3-on-3 hockey keeping the crowd at Madison Square Garden’s hearts pounding, the wide open ice providing tremendous opportunities. The last one came when Miller, partaking in a 2-on-1, fired a shot at Price, who made a diving save from one side of the crease to another, prompting several save of the year declarations on social media.
The shootout began on a good note for the Rangers, who earned an early lead thanks to a Mats Zuccarello score in the opening round, but Alexander Radulov scored in the second, and the Rangers’ subsequent attempts by Mika Zibanejad, Derek Stepan, Jimmy Vesey and Miller proved fruitless. Paul Byron put in the winner, ending things in the fifth round.
The win was the first for Claude Julien in his return to Montreal. Julien took over for the fired Michel Therrien on February 14.