Rangers cruise past Canadiens
|Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price makes a save in front of New York Rangers right wing Ryan Callahan (R) in the third period of their NHL hockey game at Madison Square Garden in New York, March 30, 2012. (REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)
Michael Del Zotto netted two goals and added an assist as the New York Rangers skated past the Montreal Canadiens, 4-1, on Friday at Madison Square Garden.
Brad Richards had a goal and two helpers, and Marian Gaborik had a goal and an assist for the Rangers, who have won four straight games. Henrik Lundqvist posted 19 stops in the win, which moved New York one point ahead of the idle St. Louis Blues in the race for the President's Trophy. Derek Stepan contributed a pair of assists.
"I don't think we are playing our best, I think we are taking steps in the right direction," Rangers head coach John Tortorella said of his team. "I think we are going this way. A couple of weeks ago we're a little bit up and down. I think we've handled ourselves well in the last four, at working at our game and the number of people who contributed."
Rene Bourque scored the only goal for the scuffling Canadiens, who have lost three straight and six of their last seven. Carey Price was tagged for all four goals on 29 shots in defeat.
"Our heart was in the game and that is a hard team to outwork," said Montreal head coach Randy Cunneyworth. "I thought we did a good job of getting some pucks on the net, but their goaltender played well. I liked the way we played tonight."
New York opened the scoring four ticks shy of the nine minute mark of the first period after Richards fired a shot on net from the slot that was stopped by Price, but Gaborik collected the rebound and ripped it past the Montreal netminder.
Skating on the power-play to open the second period, the Rangers made it 2-0 just 30 seconds in after Richards accepted a deft backhand pass along the blue line from Stepan, and wristed a shot that got through traffic and just over the right pad of Price.
The Rangers struck again on the power play 8:17 into the third frame after Del Zotto accepted a cross-ice pass from Stepan at the left point and let a slap shot go that Price got a piece of, but it just squeezed through his pads to make it 3-0.
It was 4-0 for New York with 3:02 to play in the third period after Gaborik picked up a loose disc in the neutral zone and raced across the offensive blue line with speed. Gaborik spotted Del Zotto trailing and the big defenseman ripped it high over the glove of Price.
Bourque ended the shutout 33 seconds later when he slammed it home from in front off a feed from Tomas Plekanec, but it was too late for the Canadiens.
The Rangers improved to 8-6-0 against Original Six teams this season...New York finished 2-for-4 on the power play, while the Canadiens failed to score with three man advantage opportunities...It was Del Zotto's first career two- goal game...New York will host the Boston Bruins on Sunday, while Montreal will visit the Washington Capitals on Saturday...With the win, the Rangers reached the 50-win plateau for just the third time in franchise history.