It was a rare Friday night matchup for the Habs as they travelled to New York to take on the Rangers at MSG. The Canadiens were coming off a game on Thursday where they probably deserved a better fate than the 3-2 loss to Colorado. For the Rangers, they were coming off 3-2 win in Columbus on Thursday.
With Jesperi Kotkaniemi out suffering from a concussion, Charles Hudon was inserted back into the lineup and Nick Suzuki was moved into Kotkaniemi’s centre position. Price was given the start in goal after Cayden Primeau made his NHL debut on Thursday.
It was an exciting back and forth game with both teams looking like they could take it over. But the Habs found a way, and with just over a minute left Nate Thompson slid the puck past Alexandar Georgiev to win the game for Montreal by a 2-1 score.
Both teams had their legs early and there was some quick back and forth play for the first half of the opening frame. Midway through the period, Brendan Gallagher scored the opening goal for the Habs once again. It was a clean and crisp breakout of the zone that resulted in Tomas Tatar bringing it in over the blue line. He stopped up and found Danault streaking into the slot. Danault drew the defender over, then sent it to Gallagher, who tipped it home.
Shortly after, the Rangers were pushing for the tying goal; a pass out in front of the Habs net appeared to be heading to a wide-open Pavel Buchnevich but Jordan Weal came into the picture out of nowhere and intercepted the pass just in time.
There was a scary moment late in the first. Shea Weber went down to block a shot in front of the net, and it hit him directly in the mouth. Weber appeared to shake it off, despite the bloody lip, and did not miss a shift (however, there were no reports on if the puck was okay).
Late in the period, Charles Hudon had a golden opportunity to double the lead. He made a nice move in the slot and whistled a wrist shot that hit the crossbar but stayed out.
The Rangers had a late push in the last couple minutes, but some solid defensive zone coverage, as well as a few key saves from Carey Price, helped the Canadiens keep the lead going into the dressing room.
New York took advantage of an unfortunate mistake early in the second period to tie the game. The puck was coming back to Otto Leskinen, but it took a bad hop over his stick. This sent Brendan Smith in on a breakaway, and he put a backhand over an outstretched Price to tie the game at one.
Montreal got the first power play chance with nine minutes to go in the second. However, it was the Rangers with the best chance. Mika Zibanejad found the puck on his stick right in the slot but Price was up to the task to keep the puck out. Late in the power play, Danault had a beautiful shooting opportunity in the slot, but he fanned on the shot and it didn’t make it to the net.
Shortly after, Ben Chiarot was called for interference. The Habs limited the Rangers’ chances and came away with a good kill. Chiarot was sent back to the box with two minutes left in the period. New York dominated the puck for almost the full two minutes, but Price was very strong, and he kept the game tied going into the second intermission.
Tatar had a huge chance early in the third period. On a strong forecheck, Danault slid the puck out front to Tatar who then wired a slapper that caught a piece of the post and hit the glass behind the net.
Most of the third period had a back and forth style to it. Each team was pressing for the go-ahead goal but they did it in a conservative way to not make a mistake.
For the last ten minutes of the game, the Habs’ line of Tatar-Danault-Gallagher was absolutely dominating. Every time they were on the ice, they came close to scoring. They did a great job of forechecking and cycling the puck for key scoring chances. Not only did they come close to scoring, they also kept the Rangers’ biggest scoring threats in check.
Late in the third period, Jeff Petry snuck in behind the New York defenders and received a beautiful touch pass from Domi. He appeared to have the go-ahead goal, but Georgiev was up to the task with a big save.
With just over a minute left, it finally happened. Nick Cousins forced a turnover at centre ice and was streaking back the other way. His initial shot was blocked in front, but he corralled the rebound. He quickly saw a streaking Thompson out of the corner of his eye and slid it over to Thompson, who had a wide-open net to give the Habs the late lead.
Montreal was under siege for the final minute, with New York pushing hard to draw back even. Led by Carey Price, the Habs stayed strong and held on until the final buzzer rang.
HabsWorld Habs Three Stars
First Star – Carey Price
Price was the most important player for the Habs. He stood tall every time they needed him and was monumental in killing the two late penalties in the second period. Price’s play allowed the Habs to be tied late in the third. He also weathered the storm late, to preserve a key win.
Stats: 1 GA, 29 saves, win
Second Star – Brendan Gallagher
Gallagher provided the spark the Habs needed on offence again as he does most nights. This was the twelfth time since the start of last season that he scored the first goal of the game. Gallagher was all over the ice every time he was out there and led by example on every shift.
Stats: 1G, +1, 4 SOG, 16:35 TOI
Third Star – Nick Cousins
Although Thompson scored the game-winner, it was all because of Cousins. He forced the turnover at centre ice and brought it the other way. He also showed great hockey sense in getting his own rebound and setting up Thompson for the win. Cousins has done a good job stepping up with several key forwards are out.
Stats: 1A, 3 SOG, 15:30 TOI
Honourable Mentions – Tomas Tatar and Phillip Danault
Along with Gallagher, this line was by far the Habs best all night. Almost every single 5 on 5 shift, this line was putting heavy pressure on the Rangers in the offensive zone. The great shifts from this line helped to give the other lines momentum and keep the Habs playing with pace. They also did a great job of keeping the likes of Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin in check to enable the Habs to win in a low scoring game.
Stats (Tatar): 1A, +1, 1 SOG, 14:19 TOI
Stats (Danault): 1A, +1, 3 SOG, 18:56 TOI