There’s nothing like a trip to New York to face the Rangers and get the train back on track. Tonight, despite being outshot the Montreal Canadiens managed to pull out a convincing four to one victory over the overpaid home side.
From the beginning of the game it was evident the Rangers work ethic was going to be poor. For the first moments in the game the puck remain deep in the Rangers zone, and the belligerent fans presents at Madison Square Garden made their discontent known.
In what would become typical of the way the Rangers played the game, the Canadiens first goal was scored when Saku Koivu, after receiving a pass from you Jan Bulis, walked in alone and fired a shot past Mike Dunham. In fact the next save Dunham made brought jeers from the crowd.
Unfortunately, after this the Canadiens seemed to drop into something of a defensive shell. For much of the rest of the first period, the Rangers took the play to Montréal and it wasn’t until late the Habs woke up.
After some fine work by Michael Ryder, Pierre Dagenais picked up the puck behind the Ranger goal and center perfect pass to Mike Ribeiro. This latter fired a one-time shot past Dunham to give the Canadiens it a 2-0 lead going into the second period.
Surprisingly enough, the second was dominated in large part by the Rangers. The Canadiens were outshot 17 to 5 and it was the strong play by Jose Theodore that kept them in the game. In fact, the second period was played significantly on the power play and there were two situations where the Canadiens had to play two men down.
It was during this second occasion, that the Rangers finally managed to put one by Theodore. Despite phenomenal effort by Stephane Quintal and the rest of the penalty kill crew, Jaromir Jagr scored for the Rangers to cut the deficit in half.
Shortly after this, the Canadiens were rewarded with their own two-man advantage and they responded as Patrice Brisebois scored from Koivu and Mike Ribeiro. Thus the Habs maintained there two goal advantage going into the third period.
The final frame saw the Canadiens pick up their game and end a high note. Just after the three-minute mark, Jason Ward scored his first goal since October as he deflected a Koivu shot past Dunham.
Interesting to note that is the fans continued to jeer the Rangers, Glen Sather became more and more red. More amusing were the chants, unprintable here due to language, which the Ranger fans rained down on the embattled coach.
The Habs now travel home to Montréal to play the Ottawa Senators and they hope to continue their strong work and improve their position in the standings.