It was a 6-3 loss for the Canadiens in New York, but that’s only part of the story. Because I’ll bet the Rangers breathed a sigh of relief when their sixth goal went in during a late-game power play.
This was one loss that doesn’t sting. After all, Montreal was down 5-1 after the first period, with Carey Price pulled in favour of seldom-used Alex Auld, and instead of the boys giving up, it became au contraire. Auld played probably his finest game this season and made several outstanding saves. And slowly but surely, with Auld doing his part, the Habs began to make a game of it. This, after playing the night before against Tampa with the Rangers waiting cosily at home.
The team began to scratch out a fine performance. James Wisniewski blasted one home in the second period to make it 5-2. Then Brian Gionta tipped in a Wiz shot and it was 5-3. And they kept coming. Without question the boys had their chances to get within one, and at that point the game would have been absolutely up for grabs.
It could have been a great night. It wasn’t, but it could’ve been.
Unfortunately, a referee put the whole thing to bed. At the 16:21 mark of the third period, Benoit Pouliot came close to netting one of those aforementioned huge markers but in the process was hurled into Henrik Lundqvist by a Ranger defender. Pouliot had no say in the matter, it wasn’t his choice, and was wrongly penalized. It was a call that iced it for the home team.
At this point Jacques Martin almost showed emotion.
The Rangers then proceeded to score their sixth with Pouliot in the box, and that was all she wrote.
I’m not upset with this loss. Not at all. Some games I want to throw a brick at the TV, but in this one, I sat back and watched a seriously depleted lineup play with guts and heart. We just need some guys back, that’s all.
Random Notes – no Hal Gill, Tomas Plekanec and Jeff Halpern, along with all the usual cast of characters.
TSN kept going on about Brandon Prust answering the bell in a big way against Travis Moen with only one second played in the game, but no one said one word about Travis Moen answering the bell in a big way against Brandon Prust.
Prust and Subban also sort-of-tangled after the Ranger took out Price in the crease.
Subban also opened the scoring in the first period with a big shot from the blueline.
Shots on goal – 31-25 Rangers
Next up – Sunday in Minnesota.