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All squared

Habs split New York road trip, head home with series tied 2-2

by Steven Nechay @CanadiensMTL /

NEW YORK -- Montreal's best-of-seven Round 1 series is now a best-of-three.

Two nights after filing their most convincing effort of the postseason in Game 3, on Tuesday it was the Rangers' turn to make a statement, and send the series back to Montreal tied.

"They were desperate tonight, and they executed a pretty good game plan," acknowledged goaltender Carey Price, who made 30 saves in the loss. "We have to give that team credit, they played well tonight."

Indeed, it was the first time this spring that the Rangers outshot the Canadiens, holding a 32-24 edge in that category, while also out-hitting the Habs by a 43-25 margin.

"They were trying to play very physical with us -- a lot more physical than the first couple of games," described forward Max Pacioretty, who tested Henrik Lundqvist twice, but continues to search for his first of the postseason. "It was obvious that was their goal, and they were able to limit our speed, time, and space. It's up to us to battle through that and come out with a win when they play that way. We hope to do so in the next game."

Video: Pacioretty on missed opportunities late

As the series now shifts to Montreal, it's obvious that these are two teams that are in the playoffs for a reason. Through four games so far, only one has entered the final two minutes of play with more than a goal separating the Original Six rivals.

"We're playing a very good team, and they played their best tonight," continued the 28-year-old captain. "We want to be better, and we have a lot to learn from this game."

But the Habs also have a lot of positives to build on, as the team's penalty kill continues to run at a league-best 100% efficiency -- having thwarted 12 Rangers power play opportunities to date.

On offense meanwhile, Alexander Radulov is riding a three-game point streak, and it's also worth mentioning that Tuesday night could have ended very differently had Shea Weber not hit the post with 1:18 left in regulation.

"[Tonight was] two of the best goalies in the league going head-to-head," underlined Pacioretty of the low-scoring affair.

As evenly matched as the two teams may be, however, Montreal does hold an edge when it comes to history.

The Canadiens are 28-20 (0.583) in playoff series which have gone to Game 5 tied 2-2. New York is not far off at 15-17 (0.469) in the same situation -- but the Habs are 43-21 in Game 5s at home.

All that to say, already guaranteed to go the six games these two teams went in 2014, this is one series which looks like it could go the distance.

"The challenge is facing the same team the next game," concluded Price. "Every game is going to be different and every team is going to adjust. It's a battle of adjustments."

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