HabsWorld.net -- 

On Sunday, the Habs were looking to reclaim home ice advantage in their first round series against the Rangers and put forth a solid defensive effort to pull out a 3-1 win, giving them a 2-1 lead in the series.

Claude Julien opted to make a pair of changes from Friday’s overtime victory.  Up front, Torrey Mitchell returned to the lineup in place of Andreas Martinsen while on the blueline, Brandon Davidson replaced the struggling Nikita Nesterov, making his NHL playoff debut in the process.  As for the Rangers, Alain Vigneault made a change on their back end, subbing in Kevin Klein for Nick Holden.

The game started off the same way the other two did, with plenty of speed but not a whole lot of offence.  Chris Kreider and Oscar Lindberg had some good chances early on but missed the net and hit the post respectively.  An early successful penalty kill by the Habs seemed to give them momentum as they started to pick it up towards the midway point of the period.

Several of Montreal’s chances came from attempted tip plays but they weren’t able to get one past Henrik Lundqvist.  New York picked up a second power play on an Alex Galchenyuk high stick and were quite sharp but they weren’t able to get one past Carey Price.  The two teams went to the dressing room in the same spot they were before the opening puck drop with the visitors holding a 10-6 edge in shots on goal.

The second period resembled the first period early on.  Again, the Rangers had a couple of notable chances but couldn’t beat Price.  At the other end, Torrey Mitchell was sprung for a partial breakaway but he too was stymied by Lundqvist.

It was looking like the period was going to end scoreless once again but the Canadiens got a late power play and actually made something of it for once.  Off a faceoff, the Habs executed a perfect tic-tac-toe play with Brendan Gallagher setting up Artturi Lehkonen who went top shelf to get Montreal on the board.  New York threatened late but Alexander Radulov hustled back defensively and made a great play to tie up Ryan McDonagh from getting a shot away.  Shots on goal in the second were 12-6 for the Habs.

The third period saw the Habs get an early power play after Andrei Markov was cut by a high stick from Mats Zuccarello.  The first half looked a lot like a typical Montreal man advantage where they weren’t generating much but in the second half, Alex Galchenyuk made a nice pass to Shea Weber who quickly wristed one past Lundqvist to double the lead.

Radulov capped off his solid game with a fantastic individual play with one hand on his stick, deftly handling the puck past Lundqvist to make it 3-0.  Price wasn’t able to hold onto the shutout though as shortly thereafter, Brady Skjei got one past him from the point but the Rangers weren’t able to get any closer.

Price wasn’t too busy, facing just 21 shots, turning aside 20.  At the other end, Lundqvist kicked aside 26 of 29 Canadiens shots on goal.  The power play made the difference as Montreal was 2/3 while New York was unable to score on any of their three man advantages.

HW Habs 3 Stars of the Night

1st Star: Alexander Radulov – He was able to carry over his strong finish in Game 2 into this one.  Not only did he have the highlight reel goal that sealed the game, he also had the big back check on McDonagh late in the 2nd.  His line wasn’t dominant but it was a solid all-around effort.

Stats: 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 points, +1 rating, 1 shot, 17:01 TOI

2nd Star: Carey Price – Price didn’t face a high volume of shots but he had to be perfect early on before the offence was able to give him some goal support.  He tracked the puck very well and didn’t allow many rebounds which, coupled with a solid effort from the defence, resulted in a pretty low shot total for New York.

Stats: 20 saves on 21 shots, 1.00 GAA, .952 SV%

3rd Star: Shea Weber – While Weber’s 2016 playoff performance wasn’t pretty, that certainly hasn’t been the case yet in this series.  He had another strong game at the defensive zone while he chipped in with what turned out to be the game winner.  He has been a true number one so far.

Stats: 1 goal, +1 rating, 2 shots, 4 hits, 29:08 TOI

Honourable Mention: Artturi Lehkonen – He didn’t see a lot of ice time (which is a bit surprising given that he was playing well) but he made the most of his playing time.  His power play goal was a well-placed shot while he had a couple of other strong chances.  He certainly isn’t wilting in his first NHL postseason series.

Stats: 1 goal, even rating, 2 PIMS, 4 shots, 2 hits, 12:39 TOI

Stat of the Night: 9:06 – Brandon Davidson didn’t see much playing time in his NHL postseason debut and surprisingly saw a lot less action than Nikita Nesterov was getting despite his struggles in the first two games.  Evidently Claude Julien doesn’t have a whole lot of confidence in Davidson, who certainly didn’t make any glaring mistakes in his limited playing time.

NHL Stat Sheet