Three road games in the span of less than 72 hours against teams ahead of them in the standings could have spelled doom for the New York Rangers
with the way they had been playing away from Madison Square Garden.
With a lot of help from Chris Drury
, they made the tall task look easy and solidified their Eastern Conference playoff standing in the process.
Drury scored the go-ahead goal with 9:51 left in the third period off a great pass from Nigel Dawes
, and the Rangers rallied from a 3-0 deficit Sunday afternoon to defeat the Montreal Canadiens
5-3 at the Bell Centre.
Drury also had an assist for his third consecutive two-point game, as New York previously won Thursday in Philadelphia and Friday in New Jersey after a 1-6-4 stretch on the road.
“This guy’s been phenomenal lately,” Rangers coach Tom Renney said. “He’s been a great man all year long anyway, but it’s nice to see him get what he deserves and our team get the residuals of that.”
and Martin Straka
also registered a goal and an assist each, while Michal Rozsival
and Brandon Dubinsky
started the Rangers’ comeback by scoring 24 seconds apart midway through the second period. With the two points, New York leaped into seventh in the East and is just three points behind the first-place Flyers in the jam-packed Atlantic Division.
"When we're stationary and just watching the game we'll get down 3-0," Drury said. "But when we're moving our feet and we're into it, we're a pretty good team."
The Canadiens, continuing a four-game homestand after a 4-1 win over the New York Islanders
on Saturday, wasted power-play goals by Andrei Markov
) and Alex Kovalev
) in the first period and Sergei Kostitsyn
’s successful penalty shot in the second.
"It's been going so well of late, we can't win them all," said Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau
"We just need to take a lesson from this."
Montreal was skating with the man advantage when Kostitsyn broke in alone on Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist
and was pulled down by Sean Avery
. Kostitsyn proceeded to roof the breakaway attempt, knocking Lundqvist’s water bottle off the net and staking the Canadiens to a 3-0 lead at 5:40 of the middle period ( 700K
Renney, who watched the Rangers get outshot 9-4 in the opening 20 minutes, was on his team to return to playing the style that has made it extremely competitive of late.
“We knew we underplayed our first period,” Renney said. “We played really good hockey the last couple of games, and we wanted to get back to that – so get it deep, play with some passion, play smart but make sure this team knew we came to play today.”
Rozsival’s power-play blast at 8:39 of the second ( 700K
) appeared to wake the Rangers up. With Straka parked in front of the net and drawing the attention of Montreal’s Bryan Smolinski
, goaltender Cristobal Huet
couldn’t find Roszival’s drive through a screen and it beat him over his catching glove for the defenseman’s 13th of the season.
Dubinsky then struck at 9:03 ( 700K
), ripping a shot off the right post and past Huet. The play started when Kovalev coughed off the puck along the boards in the Montreal zone under pressure from the Rangers’ Ryan Callahan
, and Dubinsky collected the loose puck and netted his ninth, and second in as many games.
The Rangers tied the score before the period ended, Gomez tucking home the rebound of Marc Staal
’s backhander in the slot with 4:30 to play ( 700K
). Markov had broken his stick earlier in the sequence, effectively leading the Canadiens short a man and scrambling.
Lundqvist didn’t let anything get past him after Kostitsyn’s penalty shot, finishing with 25 saves and giving the Rangers a chance to go ahead in the third.
“Our team loves the guy,” Renney said. “We play much better in front of him when he’s solid, and to be honest with you Henrik needs us playing really well so he can be the great goaltender that he is. If we minimize the chances, Henrik can beat anybody in this league.”
While the Canadiens couldn’t crack Lundqvist in the third, the Rangers struck against Huet midway through on a superb effort by Dawes. Skating along the left-wing boards, Dawes spun and threaded a cross-ice pass through several Montreal defenders and onto the stick of Drury. Parked at the right post, all Drury had to do was tap the puck in past Huet and the Rangers had a 4-3 lead ( 700K
Straka deflected a Paul Mara
shot from the point for an insurance goal with 1:30 remaining ( 700K
"I think we're a really good third period team," said Lundqvist. "We've won a lot of games lately in the third."
Montreal missed an opportunity to close within a single point of the Ottawa Senators
for the Eastern Conference lead.
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.