Three shots in the first, seven in the second, and eight in the third, and as feeble as that may sound, the Canadiens still found a way to down the New York Rangers 3-1 at Madison Square Garden, and in doing so find themselves king of the hill, top of the heap, with five straight wins racked up to put them first in the East.
New York opened the scoring in the second period, and with Montreal’s lack of offence, one goal might have been enough. But it wasn’t. Not after Max Pacioretty, with his second of the season, found the back of the net with just 1:15 left in the middle frame. Perfect timing, this goal. And a downer, I’m sure, for the Rangers.
In the third, Alex Galchenyuk converted after nice work from linemates Brandon Prust and Lars Eller, and lately we’ve seen Chucky set up two winners ( against Florida and Carolina) and score his own winner tonight. The guy’s had a fine start to his big-league career, and he doesn’t seem nearly as cocky as Nail Yakupov in Edmonton. In fact, he’s as serious and focused as can be, mature for having just turned 19, and I’ll bet there’s an army of young Montreal ladies who’d love to help him take a shower.
Still, this game could have gone south in the final minutes when Tomas Plekanec took a tripping penalty with just 3:06 remaining, and shortly after Tortorella pulled Henrik Lundqvist for an extra attacker. But Raphael Diaz settled things when he sent the puck 170 feet into the empty net, and the streak continues.
They found a way, and the beat goes on.
New York outshot Montreal 25-18. Carey Price, recovered from the flu, held the fort and as they say in hockey lingo, he gave his team a chance to win.
Lars Eller enjoyed a fine night, he skated hard and handled the puck well, and the coach should be pleased.
Next up – The Islanders at the Bell on Thursday.
Hopefully Brendan Gallagher’s concussion has vanished into concussion universe, never to be seen or heard from again.
So happy with the team right now, but if I was a bit of a nitpicker, I’d say Erik Cole was slightly lazy in covering his man in front of the net when the Rangers made it 1-0. But they won so all’s forgiven and forgotten.