The New York Rangers physically may have been on the ice on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden. But to the casual observer, they didn’t show up for their Game 3 showdown with the Montreal Canadiens.
The Rangers apparently had too much candy on Easter Sunday, looking lifeless in a 3-1 loss to the Canadiens, perhaps still reeling from the late-game shocker in Game 2. With the loss, the Rangers have now dropped six consecutive postseason contests at MSG, their last win coming back in Game 1 of the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals.
The Rangers were outplayed from the first period, staying in the game solely due to the prolonged efforts of Henrik Lundqvist. The long-suffering Rangers goaltender made several huge saves to keep the game scoreless, serving as the lone recipient of cheers from the lethargic MSG crowd. His teammates, however, could not compliment his stellar play, as New York skaters could only muster a mere 12 shots after the first two periods. Montreal had the 22-12 edge in shots after two, and a 9-6 Rangers effort in the third was too little too late.
Lundqvist kept the Rangers in the game as long as he can, making some great saves. However, the Montreal onslaught eventually became too much, particularly when the Rangers were forced to go on the penalty kill when JT Miller took a delay of game penalty. Artturi Lehkonen capitalized late in the man advantage, scoring for the 1-0 lead at the end of the first period. The Canadiens again capitalized on the power play, scoring once more and all but putting the game out of reach when Shea Weber scored while Mats Zuccarello served a double minor for high sticking. The humiliation for the Rangers was still not done, however, as Alexander Radulov, pacing Montreal with five points thus far, scored a one-handed goal for the insurmountable 3-0 score.
The Rangers did eventually soothe the blow ever so slightly, as Brady Skjei scored the first playoff goal of his career.
The Rangers now face a de facto must-win, facing off with Montreal once more at MSG on Tuesday night (7:00, MSG/NBCSN).
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490