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At the Rink: Rangers at Canadiens

by Sean Farrell

MONTREAL -- It promises to be an emotional night at Bell Centre when the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens play Saturday for the first time since the Eastern Conference Final last season.

The Rangers won the series in six games before losing to the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Final.

"They definitely have a skilled group over there," Montreal forward Max Pacioretty said of the Rangers. "And they have a little bit different team than they had last year but they're a young team like us now, a lot of young guys who are trying to make a name for themselves in the League, and I think we have the same identity as them. We want to pay a fast game and obviously we weren't happy with the results last year and we have a lot to prove now."

Goaltender Carey Price will make his sixth straight start for the Canadiens. It will be the first time he has faced the Rangers since he was knocked out of the series with a knee injury sustained in Game 1 when New York forward Chris Kreider slid into him.

Pacioretty said the two points at stake Saturday are too crucial for the Canadiens to single out Kreider or any special attention.

"Obviously we weren't happy with what happened last year," Pacioretty said. "Every point is so important in this League. You can't let them slip away. You can't give up a power play for no reason, so obviously you play him hard like everyone else, and I think games are too valuable to let things like that get into your mind."

Kreider was not concerned about facing any sort of payback.

"It was a hard-fought series last spring but I don't expect a ton of carryover," Kreider said. "It's a long time ago now and obviously there's those two points on the line."

The Rangers will have the family and friends of rookie forward Anthony Duclair behind them in the crowd. The Montreal native said he will have a strong contingent of supporters behind him for his hometown debut.

Duclair was on hand at Bell Centre last spring for a playoff game. He was a Canadiens fan growing up but was cheering for the Rangers, who chose him in the third round (No. 80) in the 2013 NHL Draft.

"I was envisaging myself playing for this organization as soon as I got drafted," Duclair, 19, said. "I was pretty grateful to get invited last year to the playoffs and it was a great experience for myself."

The Canadiens will take part in a coordinated pregame ceremony with the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs honoring two Canadian soldiers that were killed this week in separate incidents on Canadian soil, including one in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, on Monday.

Here are the projected lineups:


Chris Kreider - Kevin Hayes - Rick Nash

Mats Zuccarello - Derick Brassard - Martin St. Louis

Carl Hagelin - Dominic Moore - Anthony Duclair

Tanner Glass - Chris Mueller - Lee Stempniak

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Kevin Klein

John Moore - Matt Hunwick

Henrik Lundqvist

Cam Talbot

Scratched: Michael Kostka, Ryan Malone

Injured: Dan Boyle (fractured hand), Derek Stepan (non-displaced fractured fibula)


Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Brendan Gallagher

Alex Galchenyuk - Tomas Plekanec - Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau

Rene Bourque - Lars Eller - Dale Weise

Brandon Prust - Manny Malhotra - Travis Moen

Alexei Emelin - P.K. Subban

Andrei Markov - Tom Gilbert

Jarred Tinordi - Mike Weaver

Carey Price

Dustin Tokarski

Scratched: Jiri Sekac

Injured: None

Status report: Duclair returns to the lineup after being a healthy scratch the past two games. He will play right wing on a line with Moore and Hagelin. ... Stempniak takes Malone's place on the right side of Mueller and Glass. … Sekac will sit for a second straight game as Canadiens coach Michel Therrien goes with the same lineup he used Tuesday. ... The Canadiens assigned defenseman Nathan Beaulieu and forward Michael Bournival to Hamilton of the American Hockey League on Wednesday.

Who's hot: Nash's eight goals are tied for the most in Rangers history through the first seven games. Hockey Hall of Fame member Bill Cook accomplished the feat in 1931-32, and Don Murdoch matched it in 1976-77. … Galchenyuk has two goals and four points in his past three games. He has three goals and an assist in five games against the Rangers.

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