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Habs celebrate by topping Rangers 6-2

by Brian Hunter / NHL.com
The Montreal Canadiens continue to celebrate their centennial season — and rack up victories at the Bell Centre in the process.

Andrei Kostitsyn and Steve Begin scored 55 seconds apart to spark a three-goal first period and the Canadiens rolled to a 6-2 win over the New York Rangers on Thursday night after celebrating the 99th anniversary of the founding of the franchise.

Alex Tanguay completed the early outburst and Maxim Lapierre, Robert Lang and Matt D'Agostini also scored for Montreal, which received 18 saves in goal from Carey Price and improved to 3-0 on a franchise-record seven-game homestand.

"I think it was a big night for everybody," Lapierre said. "We played really hard, the whole team, and we stayed in the system the whole game. We said it this week, when we play simple and good defensively, we're going to have some scoring chances."

Markus Naslund and Nigel Dawes had second-period goals as the Rangers were able to cut a 4-0 deficit in half but were limited offensively from there. New York entered winners of four of its last five, including a 3-2 shootout win over Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

"It happens a bunch of times during the year where you have back-to-backs, and we've played well in back-to-backs in the past so I wouldn't blame it on that," Naslund said.

The start of the game was delayed about half an hour while the Canadiens held a ceremony to commemorate a historic day in the franchise's history. The team was founded as an inaugural member of the National Hockey Association on Dec. 4, 1909; the Canadiens unveiled bronze statues of former greats Howie Morenz, Maurice "Rocket" Richard, Jean Beliveau and Guy Lafleur outside the Bell Centre earlier in the day.

Montreal players wore throwback jerseys in the style of the 1915-16 Canadiens, who won the franchise's first Stanley Cup the year before the NHL was formed. It was the first of four variations of retro jerseys the team will wear at various points this season.

"We wanted to win, especially tonight, with this uniform," Begin said.

Kostitsyn and Begin, both of whom have been hot of late, then staked the Habs to a quick 2-0 lead. Kostitsyn scored his third goal in as many games at 9:52, then Begin followed with his second in the same span, tipping a Lapierre pass behind Henrik Lundqvist. Tanguay added a goal 2:23 before the period's end, continuing what was a difficult night for the Rangers' goalie, who faced 39 shots.

"They were all over us," Lundqvist said. "We have to play like a low-scoring team, because that's what we are. And we sure didn't do it tonight. We were taking chances, and they were good, but we made them really good, too."

The Canadiens picked up right where they left off by scoring their fourth straight goal when Lapierre beat Lundqvist 3:35 into the second. Naslund's power-play goal at 13:02 stopped the bleeding, as he deflected a Paul Mara shot past Price. Dawes got the Rangers thinking about a possible comeback when he scored with 1:17 left in the second.

But Lang connected just 49 seconds into the third to put Montreal back up by three, and it remained that way until D'Agostini closed the scoring with 49.5 seconds remaining.

"It felt really good to finally put up a few wins in a row," said Georges Laraque, who contributed a pair of assists.

Rangers coach Tom Renney felt his team wasn't able to recover from the Canadiens' early onslaught.

 
 
"We couldn't kind of collect ourselves, really," said Renney, whose team fell to 63-193-40-1 all-time at Montreal. "I thought we were OK to start with. We needed to kind of keep them with us or stay with them and we weren't able to do that, where in the past, for the most part, we've been able to kind of reel a team in and get ourselves into a hockey game, and we weren't able to do that tonight."

Material from wire services and team broadcast media was used in this report.



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