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Canadiens-Rangers Preview

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Canadiens-Rangers Preview

GAME: Montreal Canadiens (7-3-1) at New York Rangers (6-3-3).

TIME: Monday, 7 p.m. EDT.

Entering this season, it was clear Jaromir Jagr needed to be the best player for the New York Rangers if they were to have any success.

Less than one month into the season, Jagr has done much more than that.

Jagr, the NHL leader with 11 goals, looks to lead the first-place Rangers to their third straight win when they complete a home-and-home series with the Montreal Canadiens.

Jagr leads the NHL with 11 goals and is second with 18 points. He has scored at least one goal in seven of 12 games, and has nine goals and five assists during a nine-game points streak.

Jagr scored his 11th goal and Dominic Moore added added two goals, leading New York to a 5-2 victory Saturday at Montreal.

Jagr has 35 goals and 34 assists in 57 games against Montreal.

While Jagr has anchored the Rangers' offense, rookie goaltender Henrik Lundqvist continues to be the team's biggest surprise.

Lundqvist is 5-1-2 and second in the league with a 1.60 goals-against average and a .943 save percentage. Although he refuses to pin the No. 1 label on Lundqvist, Rangers coach Tom Renney has been left with little choice but to increase his playing time.

"My answer nowadays is whoever has the net that night is the No. 1 goalie," said Renney.

New York has yet to lose in regulation at home, going 4-0-2 at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers could be without one of their top forwards on Monday. Martin Rucinsky left Saturday's game in the third period with an apparent knee injury after taking a hard check from Canadiens defenseman Craig Rivet.

Montreal's Jose Theodore was pulled for the first time this season on Saturday after allowing three goals on 10 shots in 20 minutes. He was replaced by Yann Danis, who stopped 14 of 16 shots over the final two periods.

Theodore has given up six goals in 82 minutes against the Rangers this season. The former Hart Trophy winner has surrendered three or more goals in eight of his 10 games.

The Canadiens, losers of two straight following a three-game win streak, have played well on the road, picking up nine of a possible 10 points.

STANDINGS: Canadiens - 15 points, 2nd place, 1 PB, Northeast Division. Rangers - 15 points, 1st place, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Canadiens - Mike Ribeiro, 6 goals; Alexei Kovalev, 8 assists and 11 points; Mike Komisarek, 21 PIM. Rangers - Jagr, 11 goals and 18 points; Martin Straka, 12 assists; Darius Kasparaitis, 22 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Canadiens - Power play: 18.3 percent (13 for 71), tied for 12th in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.1 percent (64 for 77), tied for 12th. Rangers - Power play: 20.2 percent (15 for 74), tied for 7th. Penalty killing: 88.1 percent (74 for 84), 5th.

GOALTENDERS: Canadiens - Theodore (6-3-1, 0 SO, 3.19 GAA); Danis (1-0-0, 1, 1.20). Rangers - Lundqvist (5-1-2, 1, 1.60); Kevin Weekes (1-2-1, 3.75).

SEASON SERIES: 1-1.

LAST MEETING: Saturday; Rangers, 5-2. At Montreal, the Rangers earned the win despite being outshot 40-29. Each team went 0-for-3 on the power play.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Canadiens - 4-0-1 on the road; Rangers - 4-0-2 at home.


Associated Press

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