The next time the New York Rangers meet the Montreal Canadiens, it very well could be in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. If that happens, they’d probably like to secure a win against the Habs in the regular season.
They’ll get one last chance to do so tonight at Madison Square Garden, when they welcome Montreal in for a prime time showdown (7:00, MSG).
The Rangers (41-21-2) will embark on a four game road trip, primarily in the Southeast, after this game, and are coming off a 2-1 win over another Original Six opponent, earning a hard fought victory in Boston. Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves on his 35th birthday, while Pavel Buchnevich and Oscar Lindberg added goals. With the win, Lundqvist tied Grant Fuhr at 10th on the all time goalie wins list, currently knotted at 403.
Montreal (36-21-8) continues to lead the Atlantic Division. Since defeating the Rangers 3-2 on February 20, which ended a 1-6-1 streak, the Canadiens have gone 4-1-0, including a four-game winning streak that continued with a 2-1 win over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night at Bell Centre, in PK Subban’s return to Quebec. Subban had an assist on the Ryan Ellis goal that gave Nashville a 1-0 lead, but two third period goals by Brendan Gallagher and Paul Byron, the latter coming with just 9 seconds remaining.
This will be the third and final meeting between the Rangers and Canadiens this season, the Habs taking both exciting meetings thus far, each won by a one goal margin. The February 20 will probably be best remembered for Carey Price’s showstopping save on JT Miller in the dying seconds of overtime. Byron played the hero in the ensuing overtime competition, winning it in the fifth round.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490