The New York Rangers postseason struggles at Madison Square Garden continued on Sunday as the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Blueshirts, 3-1 and took a 2-1 series lead.
New York had trouble generating any sort of offense throughout the contest and had a very few prime scoring chances. Chris Kreider missed a one-timer, Kevin Hayes missed a tap in, Oscar Lindberg hit the post, and Michael Grabner could not control a bouncing puck, outside of that the Rangers barely challenged Price.
Henrik Lundqvist did all he could between the pipes, but two power-play goals against and a wonderful individual effort from Alexander Radulov were too much for the Blueshirts as they lost their sixth straight postseason game at MSG.
Blueshirt Bullet Points
1) The Rangers struggled to create scoring chances throughout the game but did their physical play take them out of their offensive rhythm? I asked three different players and all firmly disagreed. However, the Blueshirts were looking to finish checks instead of creating offense and generating scoring chances. Remember when Dan Girardi leveled Andrew Shaw at the blue line? He could have made a play on the puck and tried to extend the possession. Instead, he chose to deliver a significant hit but the puck left the offensive zone.
2) “We weren’t thinking about playing physical when we have the puck,” alternate captain Marc Staal explained. “We weren’t making plays with the puck to create anything.
3) The only offensive unit that tried to produce scoring chances was the Rangers fourth line. Lindberg played a terrific game and came close to scoring the game’s first goal when he fired a shot off the post. Tanner Glass played a north-south game, helping the trio generate offensive zone time. However, they are the team’s fourth line guys for a reason and New York needs others to produce offensively.
4) “They (Montreal) are playing very well defensively,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “Structurally, they are very sound. At this time right now, our best line is our fourth line. Our top players need to find their game, they obviously don’t have it right now.”
5) Speaking of top players, Mika Zibanejad had his worst game as a Ranger since being acquired this past summer for Derick Brassard, a player that always brought his best in the playoffs. In the final frame, Zibanejad was demoted to the fourth line. If he continues to play like this, his upcoming contract negotiation will be very interesting.
6) We were one of the many news outlets that wanted to see Kevin Klein in the line up instead of Nick Holden, but he looked completely out of place, especially at the start. In the first period alone, he committed several turnovers. AV’s decision to break up the strong Brady Skjei-Brendan Smith pairing before the game was questionable as well. By the third period, Smith was on the top pairing alongside captain Ryan McDonagh. Nick Holden could return to the lineup and don’t discount the possibility of Steven Kampfer making his series debut in Game 4.
7) While Montreal was able to capitalize twice on the power play, the Rangers special teams units struggled mightily. They barely got set up in the offensive zone on the man advantage and are now 0-12 in the series with the extra-attacker. New York’s power play in the postseason has been a well-documented issue since the days of John Tortorella. When the team fails to convert, the opposition gains momentum while a deflating feeling sinks in for the Blueshirts.
8) “We’re definitely fighting it a little bit, to say the least,” McDonagh said. “If it’s not going well, we really need to simplify here, make one or two passes and look to get it to the net. We are maybe looking to extend our plays a little bit too much and it’s costing us scoring opportunities.”
9) The Rangers are winless in their last six home postseason games and have been outscored 21-4 over that span.
10) “I think it’s important we start with ourselves and not look at what they are doing,” Lundqvist said after stopping 26 of 29 shots. “Let’s start with ourselves. Yes, they are a good team. We have to give more at home, in the playoffs, or we aren’t going to win. We need more; it’s as simple as that. Obviously special teams were a big part of the game tonight. I didn’t come up with the saves there on the penalty kill. They made some good plays. Our power play did not get going and get any momentum for us. We all need to be better in the next one.”
11) Game 4 will be played Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.
12) “We get a day here, get a practice in, and try to regroup ourselves,” Derek Stepan said. “Can’t have any panic in your game. You’ve just got to make sure you get yourself ready for Game 4. You win Game 4 and who knows what can happen.”