Forward lines and defense pairings
Pacioretty – Danault – Radulov
Byron – Plekanec – Gallagher
Lehkonen – Galchenyuk – Shaw
King – Ott – Mitchell
Markov – Weber
Benn – Petry
Beaulieu – Davidson
Brian Flynn, Michael McCarron, Andreas Martinsen, Alexei Emelin, Nikita Nesterov
The perfect road game. It was how Carey Price described the performance. If such a thing exists, the Montreal Canadiens came very close to playing one at Madison Square Garden.
The Habs dominated at even strength, won the special teams battle and were superior in goal. And perhaps the most-telling statistic: the Canadiens forced 21 New York turnovers.
The Rangers didn’t play well and the fans at MSG let them know it. On the other hand, the Canadiens got superb efforts from three players who were not on the team last season: their outstanding rookie, a prized free agent and one of the league’s top defenceman who was not universally embraced by the Montreal fanbase.
Artturi Lehkonen hasn’t let the big stage phase him one bit. Lehkonen finished the perfect execution of a set play with Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher. The power-play goal opened the scoring, providing the Habs with a lead before the end of the second period.
Alexander Radulov continued his magic with sublime pass to Alex Galchenyuk who, in turn, set up Shea Weber for the Canadiens second goal. Radulov then topped off his night with the goal of the playoffs so far. With one hand on his stick and a defender draped all over him, Radulov manipulated the puck past Henrik Lundqvist.
Shea Weber scored his first goal of the playoffs on the power-play. It turned out to be the game-winner. Weber was huge in his own end playing more than 29 minutes and dishing out four hits.
Adding to the trio above was a superb game from Carey Price, Alex Galchenyuk raising the level of his play and a much better effort from the fourth line (with the addition of Torrey Mitchell.) Tomas Plekanec and co. continues their strong play in the playoffs.
On defence, Nathan Beaulieu continues to struggle. Brandon Davidson was marginally better than Nikita Nesterov but only played nine minutes. The Canadiens are really missing Alexei Emelin but it seems that he is at least a week away.
Montreal has restored home ice advantage and will be looking to take a commanding lead in the series on Tuesday.
▲ Carey Price, Shea Weber, Alexander Radulov, Artturi Lehkonen, Torrey Mitchell
▼ Nathan Beaulieu