Should they remain in the top wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, the New York Rangers could be walking into a potential first-round playoff preview on Tuesday night.
They’ll hope “Game 2” goes a lot better than their first meeting with the potential opponent, as they’ll host the Montreal Canadiens, current leaders of the Atlantic Division (7:00, MSG).
Welcoming in the Atlantic leaders tonight, the Rangers (38-19-1) took care of business against the Metropolitan Division leaders on Sunday afternoon, defeating the Washington Capitals in 2-1 fashion in a nationally televised matinee. Ryan McDonagh scored a first period goal, while Mats Zuccarello broke the 1-1 tie with a third period score. In the process, Henrik Lundqvist made 31 saves, tying him with Chris Osgood for 11th all-time with 401 wins.
The Canadiens (31-20-8), meanwhile, recently made waves with a coaching change, subbing Michel Therrien for Claude Julien, recently fired from Montreal’s bitter rival Boston. The Julien era did not get off to an ideal start, as the Canadiens fell 3-1 to the Winnipeg Jets at home on Saturday. Carey Price had 30 saves, and Andrei Markov scored the Habs’ tally, but couldn’t stop multi-point nights Mathieu Perreault and Patrik Laine. Following that game, their first after their bye, Montreal is 1-6-1 in their past eight.
This is the second meeting between the Rangers and Canadiens this season, the first meeting coming on January 14, a 5-4 Montreal win. The Rangers had the lead three separate times, thanks to goals by Brandon Pirri, Rick Nash and JT Miller, but Montreal scored three goals in 62 seconds, courtesy of Alexei Emelin, Max Pacioretty, and Paul Byron. Derek Stepan narrowed it down, but the Rangers were unable to retie the game. The teams will meet for a final time on March 4, also at MSG.