Martin St. Louis scored at 6:02 of the first overtime period to give the New York Rangers a 3-2 win over the Canadiens and with the win, give themselves a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference Final. The Canadiens’s P.K. Subban had tied the game early in the third period on a power play but they never had the lead in the game. Carl Hagelin opened the scoring early in the first period on a shorthanded goal. Derick Brassard made it 2-1 on a breakaway. In between, Francis Bouillon scored to tie the game at 1-1. The shots on goal were even at 29-29.
Adding It Up –
No Advantage – The Canadiens power play disappeared in mid-December, had a brief resurgence in the playoff’s first two rounds and then, for some reason, went south again. Without question, the Canadiens power play was the last thing on the Rangers’ mind as they piled up eight penalties compared with only 3 for the Habs. Yes, Subban scored (on what might have been a deflection of Gallagher, but most of the other 13 minutes in power play time was a horrible thing to watch.
Questions? What happened to Subban between the Boston series and the Rangers. Subban’s ego demands that he be the ‘go-to-guy”. He’s been basically shut down as have Thomas Vanek, Tomas Pelanec and Brian Gionta. The team captain took six shots on goal. Not one of them worried Henrik Lundqvist in the least. Pre-judging player performance is a dangerous game, because we gave no idea about injury issues, but there is little contribution from this group at the moment.
Sloppy – So, let’s look at the Ranger goals. Canadiens on a power play and Brian Boyle sends an 80 foot pass past an unaware Andrei Markov a breakaway. 1-0. The Canadiens caught on a terrible line change and Derick Brassard has a breakaway. 2-1.
Deserved Better – On the game winner, Canadiens fail to clear the puck out three times, everybody against the boards and Alexei Emelin moves over leaving Martin St. Louis all alone in front with about five minute to shoot the puck. Good as he his, Dustin Tokarski wasn’t going to rob him six times in a row. Game winner. Three Ranger goals scored, all on unforgivable defensive zone breakdowns.
On the Whole – Tokarski was unreal. With any kind of help he could have been 3-0 in the playoffs. He’s a totally different animal than Carey Price. While Price loves to play inside the blue paint, Tokarski will go out there and challenge shooters. All well and good, but you need support from the defense and they were there to clear rebounds. Nothing to be said about the three he let in.
Not Done Yet – The Rangers still have to beat the Canadiens at the Bell Centre in Game Five. For whatever you say about the defensive sloppiness of this game, it’s hard to dispute that the Canadiens forced the Rangers into overtime for the second straight game in their own building. A home win, another one like this in Game Six and now it’s Game Seven. On the brink…yes. Done. Not quite yet. And the Rangers know it.
Chucky – While most of the veterans were struggling, in the third period Alex Galchenyuk gave us another glimpse of the future. First he dangerously went down in front of a blast from Ranger defenseman Dan Girardi with six minutes left. Then on his next shift, on a setup from David Desharnais his shot hit off Lundqvist and the crossbar.
Youth Served – The best part of the Canadiens playoff effort is the work of the team’s youth. Galchenyuk, Gallagher, Eller, Weise, Tokarski – even Bournival supplied an energy source that the team’s veterans haven’t been able to find. Although I do like what I saw from Briere in his 12:31 of ice time.
Understatement of the Night – Michel Therrien “Our power play has to be better.”
Moving On – Tuesday night at the Bell Centre. Trot out the cliches. ‘Backs-to-the-Wall’. ‘There’s-No-Tomorrow’. ‘Strangle-Hold’. But it is home ice on Tuesday. For the record, twice in the last ten years the Canadiens have come back from 1-3 to win a series; 2004 vs. Boston and 2010 against Washington. And I’m sure in the Canadiens room, the main talking point is, ‘the Rangers came back from 1-3 to beat the Penguins.’ Why not the Habs?