Kevin Klein makes his first appearance in the series in place of the shaky Nick Holden. After 3 minutes i am shocked at the energy level of the Rangers. It’s awful. Both teams seem lackluster, but that’s ok for the road team as long as the home team is at that level, or in this case, worse. Finally, Mats Zuccarello comes around the net and feeds a hard charging Chris Kreider, who shanks it wide.
The Rangers get the games’s first power play and couldn’t be worse on it. No set up time. No shots. The Rangers continue to play like zombies as they leave goalie Henrik Lundqvist on his own. In three different forays into the Rangers zone Lundqvist stops Max Pacioretty, then Brendan Gallagher, then Paul Byron. The Rangers fourth line is their best line, as they are spending the most time in the offensive zone, as Oscar Lindberg rings a shot off the post. Tanner Glass blasts Jeff Petry, behind the net, then draws a hooking penalty to send the Rangers on their second power play. This man advantage has a pulse but still fails to score. Rangers defensive zone giveaways are mounting, The buzzer sounds after a scoreless period. Ugly numbers: Giveaways- Rangers-10, Canadians -1. Faceoffs Canadians- 70% Rangers 30%.
Lifeless. The two teams engage in some of the most boring hockey my eyes have ever seen. Many minutes go by without so much as a shot. The fans at MSG are already getting a bit restless, as they have seen too many of these type of playoff games in recent years. The team has effectively taken the crowd out of the game. Krieder, Kevin Hayes, J.T. Miller, and Mika Zibanajad are generating absolutely nothing so far. Miller gives the the Habs their first power play, by playing the puck with his hand on a faceoff. Just a terrible penalty to take. For the first minute, Lundqvist is, as usual, stellar. But Montreal works a great, quick as lightning passing play, from Tomas Plekanek to Brendan Gallagher and finished by Artturi Lehkonen. And, like most fans in all probability, I am thinking that’s all Montreal will need. The period ends with the Canadians up 1-0. The Rangers being outshot 22-12. Ugly.
The third period starts with all of the forward lines jumbled and changed. The Rangers though still showing a lack of passion and complete lack of creativity and offense. The crowd has started to jeer the home team in what seems like 6 straight playoff games over three seasons. Ranger fans are asked to pay an outrageous sum of money to attend playoff games, and now enter the Garden with a sense of dread for post season games which is shameful. Right wing Mats Zuccarello gets his stick up way too high on Andrei Markov, 4 minutes into the period, and draws a four minute penalty.
The timing of this couldn’t be worse as the Rangers need every precious minute to try and tie the score. The Rangers do well to kill the first of the double-minors. But, Shea Weber fires home a great pass from Alex Galchenyuk to tally the Canadians second power play goal of the night. The lead is now, inexplicably, insurmountable. Give credit to Montreal, they are playing very responsible, and almost perfect, defensively. But the Rangers forwards should be embarrassed. Their fourth line of Glass, Lindberg and Jesper Fast has been their best. The word that comes to mind is unacceptable. Alex Radulov finishes off a ridiculous stickhandling, one-handed effort, to make it 3-0. Radulov has had a fine series in both ends of the ice; so surprisingly good at backchecking. With just under 3 minutes left, one of the few Rangers bright spots, Brady Skjei, finishes at set play from an offensive zone draw, with a blast from the blue line. Skjei has elevated his game well enough, with some big checks and an increased dangerous presence in the offensive zone.
The Rangers will have to be much, much better to win on Tuesday. Their goaltender has been as good as anyone could hope. And as they did against Tampa in 2015, they are not scoring at MSG, and strangling the life out of the home crowd.