The Canadiens won a close one against the New York Rangers Saturday night – way too close. For the first half of the opening period, the Habs looked slow, out of sync, and completely willing to hand it to the Rangers. New York dominated, culminating with Brian Boyle scoring at 6:58. The Habs looked defeated. But at 12:10, P.K. Subban drew a penalty and with Dubinsky in the box for roughing, Roman Hamrlik scored his 4th of the season off a beautiful pass from James Wisnewski. Mathieu Darche was key on the play, screening Lundqvist perfectly.
Less than two minutes after Dubinsky’s penalty, Michael Sauer tripped Gomez and the Habs were back on the power play with a chance to get the lead. James Wisnewski gave the puck to Subban, who faked a shot and sent it to Tomas Plekanec, who promptly sailed it past Lundqvist to make the score 2-1.
Tremendous pressure by the Canadiens followed, and at 16:03 Halpern found Andrei Kostitsyn in front of the net for Kostitsyn’s 11th. Frustration by a dead-in-the-water Rangers team led to Kris Newbury dropping the gloves with Travis Moen. Moen sent Newbury to the ice with one punch.
The Canadiens had many gilt-edged scoring chances in the second, but could not extend their lead. The period ended rather strangely, with Pacioretty sliding into Lundqvist and Lundqvist taking offence, jumping and punching Pacioretty. And the Rangers ended up with a PP after a scrum that included Gionta getting a penalty as well for roughing.
The third period was a tense one, with the Rangers desperately trying to get something going. Mats Zuccarello wristed one past Price at 6:57 to get New York within one goal of tying the game. A very anxious 13 minutes followed, with the Rangers all over the Habs, shooting from all angles. Hal Gill took a hooking penalty with a minute left, and the Habs, with four skaters on the ice vs. the Rangers’ six, had to claw their way to victory by the skin of their teeth. But win they did.
HW 3 Stars of the Night:
First Star – Carey Price: Price was solid throughout, except on Brian Boyle’s goal in the first, which squeezed by between the post and his pad. He made several excellent saves in the third to preserve the win.
Second Star – James Wisnewski: What unbelievable stats: Two goals, seven assists in seven games. Wisnewski had two assists tonight, being instrumental in setting up the tying and winning goals, holding the puck in at the line on several occasions and playing an overall great game.
Third Star – Andrei Kostitsyn: After going scoreless for ten games, he finally potted one, and looked mighty happy about it too. Throughout the game he appeared more alert and engaged. He also made some bonehead plays (giveaways and failure to clear pucks) but encouraging signs from the ever-enigmatic Kostitsyn.
Mike Cammalleri: In his first game back after being out with a strep throat, he looked slightly more involved than he was before he fell ill. He also appeared less tense, and seemed to be having more fun on the ice.
P.K. Subban: Played much better defensively than he has been, and got under Dubinsky’s skin perfectly. He did not retaliate when Dubinsky pushed him in the first, which led to a PP and the Habs tying the game.