Rangers defeat Canadiens 5-2, secure historic 53rd win

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

With the Stanley Cup Playoffs beginning in two weeks, the New York Rangers show no signs of slowing down. They won again Sunday at Madison Square Garden, defeating the Montreal Canadiens 5-2, their third straight victory and eighth in their past nine games.

It was also their 53rd win of the season, tying the franchise single-season record set in 2014-15.

“You don’t want to tie, you’d rather break it (the record), but not something you probably appreciate as much as you should probably in the moment, but something you’ll reflect on sometime in the future … we still have work to do, but that’d be something that’s pretty cool,” Rangers captain Jacob Trouba said.

The Rangers scored four third-period goals to snap a 1-1 tie and they are now 11-2-1 when tied after 40 minutes this season. This was also their 27th comeback victory of the season.

Artemi Panarin had four points (one goal, three assists) to extend his point scoring streak to nine games. He has 115 points now, fourth most in the NHL.

Mika Zibanejad scored twice and had three points. Igor Shesterkin made 27 saves for his 34th win.

“Overall, I thought it was a good game throughout,” Zibanejad said.

Cole Caufield and Alex Newhook scored for Montreal and goalie Cayden Primeau was the tough-luck loser, playing extremely well with 41 saves.

Related: Rangers scratch Jack Roslovic, Erik Gustafsson against Canadiens

New York Rangers 5 – Montreal Canadiens 2

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Despite outplaying the Canadiens by a significant margin in the first period, the Rangers skated off the ice after 20 minutes trailing 1-0. Caufield scored his 24th goal with 30 seconds remaining in the period when he grabbed his own rebound and banked a shot off Shesterkin and into the net.

Caufield had four of Montreal’s 11 shots in the first period. But the real difference maker was Primeau, who stopped all 16 shots he faced in the opening stanza, including three by Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren.

The Rangers again had the better of the play in the second period. And again, Primeau was outstanding, including big saves against Will Cuylle, Panarin and K’Andre Miller.

However, the Rangers finally broke through, scoring a fortuitous goal at 12:31. Skating on their second power play, the Rangers tied it up when Zibanejad’s left-wing pass deflected off the skate of Canadiens’ forward Joel Armia and between Primeau’s pads. It was Zibanejad’s 101st career power-play goal with the Rangers, moving him into sole possession of fifth place in franchise history.

The goal made up for Zibanejad rifling a shot off the post a few minutes earlier.

The Rangers caught another break late in the second, when Newhook’s power-play shot whistled through traffic before hitting iron behind Shesterkin, keeping the score tied 1-1 entering the intermission.

With Montreal still on the power play to open the third period, each team had an excellent early scoring chance. First, Canadiens forward Juraj Slafkovsky was denied by a quick Shesterkin glove. Then Zibanejad’s shorthanded break was short-circuited by Primeau’s pad.

Primeau made another sensational save against Chris Kreider shortly thereafter. But Kreider got the last laugh when he scored a power-play goal at 3:59 to give New York its first lead, 2-1. It was a patented Kreider deflection in front, his 109th career power-play goal, second most in Rangers history.

Panarin scored his 46th goal off a pretty give-and-go with Alexis Lafreniere at 6:09 to make it 3-1.

The Canadiens got one back at 12:13 when Newhook raced behind Adam Fox, broke in alone and snapped a shot past Shesterkin’s glove for his 13th goal to make it 3-2.

The comeback was muted, however, when Jimmy Vesey found Zibanejad alone in front for his 26th goal at 16:56, restoring New York’s two-goal lead. Lafreniere scored an empty-net goal with 1:15 to play to ice the game.

The win keeps the Rangers five points up on the Carolina Hurricanes for first place in the Metropolitan Division. Carolina shut out the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0 on Sunday.

The Rangers moved three points ahead of the Boston Bruins in the race to win the Presidents’ Trophy for best regular-season record in the NHL. Each has four games remaining.

“We’ve got people chasing us and we want to keep putting wins in the column and points in the column,” Trouba said.

Prior to the game, Vincent Trocheck was named the 2024 recipient of the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award.

The Rangers are back in action Tuesday, when they visit the Islanders at UBS Arena.

Jim Cerny is Executive Editor at Forever Blueshirts and Managing Editor at Sportsnaut, with more than 30 years of... More about Jim Cerny

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