After logging more than 15,000 miles of travel between the beginning of the preseason and Saturday’s victory over the Detroit Red Wings, the New York Rangers were finally able to come home. The team was forced to play all of their preseason games and the first nine regular season games due to the final stage of renovations to Madison Square Garden. Now that it has been completed, hockey is back in Manhattan and the first visitor was the Montreal Canadiens.
The Canadiens came into Monday’s contest allowing the second fewest goals in the Eastern Conference (22), topped only by the Boston Bruins (17). Meanwhile, the Rangers entered the game with the fewest goals scored in the NHL with 15. The trend would continue as the Canadiens (7-5-0) spoiled New York’s home opener by beating the Rangers 2-0.
Montreal’s backup Peter Budaj stopped 27 shots for his 11th career shutout. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 25 shots in his first game back after missing the last two due to an undisclosed injury.
After a scoreless first period and first half of the second period, Tomas Plekanec would break open the scoring with a power play goal after some nifty passing by his linemates. After a quick pass by former New Jersey Devil Brian Gionta, winger Michael Bournival was able to spring Plekanec loose in the slot with a brilliant pass, leaving no Rangers between Lundqvist and Plekanec, who shot the puck in on the backhand for his sixth goal of the season. The goal was a tough pill to swallow after the power play resulted after Brian Boyle was wrongly called for roughing.
A lot of the Rangers’ shots throughout the game were perimeter shots, although the team did try, at times, to get traffic in front. For the most part, Budaj was not severely tested – certainly not on the level Jimmy Howard was on Saturday in Detroit. The Blueshirts’ strongest period was the second, where the team registered 14 shots on goal, but they managed only six in the third period.
Also, the Rangers were 0 for 5 on the power play, so the team definitely had their chances to get goals on the board. But, largely throughout those power plays, the Rangers failed to generate true pressure on Budaj and Montreal’s penalty killing units. Though, one of those power plays ended after just 21 seconds. Two Canadiens forwards bumped into each other on their own accord, but the officials called Chris Krieder, who was skating nearby, for an interference penalty. It may have been the Rangers’ best chance at a goal in the entire game. The two Montreal skaters were both on the ice as Derick Brassard was about to head toward Budaj unfettered – until the whistle was blown.
This especially hurt when the Canadiens scored again with less than three minutes in regulation. Alex Galchenyuk received a great pass from Lars Eller in front of the net and scored his second goal of the season. The goal was reviewed as it appeared the puck went in off Galchenyuk’s skate. But after review, the goal stood and the air was completely taken out of the crowd and the Rangers.
It marks the third time this season (10 games in) that the Blueshirts (3-7-0) have been shutout. On October 10, the Rangers lost to the Anaheim Ducks 6-0. Then, nine days later, they lost to the Devils 4-0.
The Rangers will be back at it again Tuesday night as they play their 10th road game in 11 games this season. But, they won’t have to leave the city as the Tuesday’s matchup is the first of the season against the New York Islanders and their newest player, the high-scoring Thomas Vanek.