Habs fall to Rangers in shootout
The Montreal Canadiens gave up a huge point at home, losing 4-3 in a shootout to the New York Rangers on Tuesday.
Rangers forward Chris Drury scored the winning goal in the shootout, after New York peppered Montreal goaltender Carey Price with 42 shots on the night.
"It's a tough building to play in and we knew they'd come out strong, with some of the things that have gone on here," said New York coach John Tortorella. "We found a way to win."
Canadiens defenceman Andrei Markov had a goal and an assist in the loss. Maxim Lapierre and Alexei Kovalev also scored for the Habs, with Nik Antropov, Nikolai Zherdev and Ryan Callahan netting the goals for the Rangers.
"We had guys who were working hard," Lapierre said. "I know we didn't get the two points, that's not a good thing, but we did get one big point that keeps us in the race."
All three Rangers scored on their shootout chances, as Markus Naslund and Antropov also found the back of the net. Kovalev and Markov scored for Montreal, with Andrei Kostitsyn missing wide on his attempt.
The Habs had a huge chance to take all the spoils with a couple minutes left in regulation time, as Scott Gomez sat in the New York penalty box, but they couldn't capitalize. The Canadiens went 1-for-6 on the power play, while New York was 0-for-4.
Tight playoff race
With the loss, Montreal falls one point behind New York for sixth place in the tight Eastern Conference standings. But the good news for the Canadiens is that ninth-place Florida and 10th-place Buffalo also lost Tuesday, which means the Habs went three points ahead of the Panthers and five up on the Sabres. Eighth-place Carolina was idle.
"It was a huge point gained, but a tough point lost," said Canadiens defenceman Mike Komisarek, who took out his frustration on a penalty box camera after he was called for slashing Sean Avery late in the second period. "We have to look at the battles we won, not the negative."
The contest had a playoff-like atmosphere from the start. A fast-paced and intense first period saw New York and Montreal trade chances throughout. Price and the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist were both solid in net, each stopping 11 shots in the frame and keeping the score 0-0.
The Rangers opened the scoring thanks to Antropov, who slapped home a Drury rebound 6:11 into the second. The Kazakh winger, who was acquired at the trade deadline, has goals in three straight games.
Montreal responded at 18:26 on Kovalev's 17th goal of the season. It came on the power play, as the Russian one-timed a nice pass from Markov.
The teams again traded goals early in the third, with New York's Zherdev scoring his 20th of the season at 5:32 and Lapierre netting one for the Habs just 40 seconds later on their first shot of the period.
The Rangers completely took over the game in the final frame, outshooting the Canadiens 16-5, and they took the lead for the third time on Callahan's 16th of the year.
But Montreal came back again, scoring on only their second shot of the stanza. Markov put a weak backhand on net at 15:07 that somehow squeaked through Lundqvist's pads.
"It was a terrible goal to let in but it happens. I'm happy as a team we stayed cool and just kept going," Lundqvist said.
The best chance in overtime came on a Wade Redden deflection that went just wide of the Montreal goal.