Riding scoring surge, Canadiens take on Rangers
The Montreal Canadiens can earn a split of their four-game road trip with a second consecutive victory when they face the New York Rangers on Friday night.
The Canadiens hope an offensive surge in their most recent game might be a needed spark.
Montreal totaled four goals while losing at Toronto and New Jersey to open the road swing, but it roared back in dominant fashion with an 8-1 win at Detroit on Tuesday. Andrew Shaw recorded his first career hat trick, points-leader Max Domi had two goals with three assists, and Jonathan Drouin assisted on four goals in the Canadiens' highest scoring game since routing the Red Wings 10-1 on Dec. 2, 2017.
Domi has five goals and five assists in six games.
"We didn't get satisfied, we just kept finding ways to keep plugging away and finally we just scored more goals," Domi said on NHL.com. "That's a huge strength for our group, and it's something to really build on from here on out."
The victory snapped a season-high five-game road losing streak and was just the third triumph in nine games overall for Montreal, which is vying for a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
"Every team goes into slumps at some point during the year," Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. "We needed to get out of it really quickly because of the time of the season."
Montreal would seem to have a good opportunity to end the trip on a positive note against the Rangers, who look set to miss the playoffs for a second straight season. The Canadiens lost 5-3 in New York on Nov. 6 but won 5-2 at home in the teams' most recent meeting on Dec. 1.
The Canadiens' Tomas Tatar, who has posted six goals over a nine-game stretch, has three with an assist against the Rangers this season.
Carey Price made 28 saves against Detroit, and Julien confirmed on the team's website Thursday that Price will start this first of back-to-back games for Montreal. The Canadiens host playoff-contending Pittsburgh on Saturday before heading back on the road for three games in California.
Price has a 3.55 goals-against average while splitting his two starts against New York this season.
The Rangers have earned at least a point in three straight games following back-to-back overtime defeats. They fell behind 2-0 and 3-1 to league-leading Tampa Bay on Wednesday, but rallied to force overtime with three second-period goals before falling in the extra session.
"If that's what we're going to do against the elite teams in the league, I like the direction we're going," Rangers coach David Quinn said.
Jimmy Vesey recorded a goal with an assist in the loss. He has one goal with two assists vs. Montreal this season.
Alexandar Georgiev made 26 saves against the Lightning, but Henrik Lundqvist could return to the net on Friday. Lundqvist went 1-4-2 with a 3.16 goals-against average in February, but he made 31 saves in the November home win over the Canadiens.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 28, 2019