Montreal Canadiens vs. New York Rangers - 4/12/14
New York Rangers (45-31-5) at Montreal Canadiens (45-28-8)
NHL Hockey: Saturday, April 12, 2014 at 7:00 pm (Bell Centre)
The Line: Montreal Canadiens -133 / New York Rangers +121 --- Over/Under: 5 See the Latest Odds
The New York Rangers close out their regular season on Saturday night with a match up at the Bell Centre against the Montreal Canadiens. New York has nothing to play for in this one after having clinched home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a win over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night. The Rangers will host either the Philadelphia Flyers or the Columbus Blue Jackets next week. It wasn't the prettiest effort for this club on Thursday night when they hosted the Buffalo Sabres but at the end of the night they got the two points they needed. It was a sloppy first period that made New York look unprepared and not fully engaged in the contest against the bottom feeding Sabres. Buffalo got on the board first in the second period in what amounted to their only shot of the period. It looked as if the Rangers would head to the third trailing by a goal but Mats Zuccarello made a beautiful cross ice pass to Benoit Pouliot to tie the game with under a minute to play in the frame. The goal was a big relief for a club that outshot Buffalo 18-1 over the 20 minutes. Henrik Lundqvist was really the star in this one for New York and he made some incredible saves in the first and third periods that really kept New York in the game. The Rangers are going to need that type of play in the post season from Lundqvist if they expect to advance. It hasn't been a typical season for Lundqvist, despite posting solid numbers yet again. New York can only hope that Lundqvist is saving his best for last and can lead them on a long run. There's no word yet on whether or not Lundqvist will start in goal in this game or if he'll give way to Cam Talbot. Lundqvist hasn't played much in Montreal of late because of how awful his numbers have been, but it could be interesting to see if head coach Alain Vigneault chooses to play him there to fight off some of his demons in case there's a potential playoff match up down the road between the two clubs. Martin St. Louis asssited on Rick Nash's game winning goal with under two minutes to play in regulation to help lift the Rangers to the 2-1 victory. St. Louis has scored just once since his arrival from Tampa Bay but he's playing much better hockey lately and since being set up with Nash and Derek Stepan he's seemed to have elevated his game.
For Montreal this game has some relevance because they're in a battle with the Tampa Bay Lightning for home ice in the first round of their playoff series. These two clubs will square off starting next week and when Montreal takes the ice on Saturday night they could very well be one point behind the Lightning in the standings. Add that to the fact that the Canadiens have lost three of the four meetings against Tampa Bay this season and it makes Saturday's contest with New York that much more important. The Habs have played very well against the Rangers in Montreal. For whatever reason it always appears that they're able to use their speed and their crowd to really get New York off of their game. Now with the news coming down that Alex Galchenyuk will miss the first round of the post season the odds are even more stacked against them. Montreal had really been cruising before losing two consecutive games and three of their last four. While it's not something to be overly concerned about it was still a little disconcerting to see the type of effort the Habs put in on home ice on Thursday night against the lowly New York Islanders. Not only were the Canadiens shut out 2-0 in the game but they were outshot 30-19 in the contest. Montreal allowed two power plays while at the same time going 0-for-3 with the man advantage. Carey Price made 28 saves but didn't get help from anywhere. The Canadiens will need Price to be their best player if they're going to get by the Lightning and their lethal offense. Saturday night should be a great chance for them to rebound on home ice against a New York club that isn't playing for a thing.
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