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Habs face Rangers for second time this week

by Brian Hunter /
RANGERS (26-16-3) at CANADIENS (24-17-3)


Last 10:
New York 6-2-2; Montreal 5-4-1

Season series:
Second of four meetings this season -- the first one took place this past Tuesday, with backup goaltender Alex Auld stopping 25 shots and Benoit Pouliot scoring the go-ahead goal in the third period of Montreal's 2-1 win over New York at Madison Square Garden.

Big story: While the Canadiens are adjusting to life without defensemen Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges, out for the season with knee injuries, illness has taken a bite out of their depth up front in recent games. Michael Cammalleri has missed the last two games with strep throat and remains day-to-day, while Max Pacioretty didn't skate Friday because he was under the weather.

"I'm not sure if Pacioretty has the same thing, but I know a few guys haven't been feeling great lately so it's something that might go around a bit," Cammalleri said.

Team Scope:

Low-scoring, one-goal games have been the norm for the Blueshirts this month, and so it was again on Thursday as they bounced back from their loss to the Canadiens by claiming a 1-0 win over the current Presidents' Trophy leaders, the Canucks. Henrik Lundqvist recorded his 30th career shutout, making 31 saves, and newcomer Wojtek Wolski scored the only goal of the night on a power play 7:18 into the second period. New York ended Vancouver's run of 17 straight games with at least a point (14-0-3).

"We are growing as a team," coach John Tortorella said afterward. "Everyone contributed to this win. And it was a real good answer to a very tough loss to Montreal the other night. That's what I liked most about tonight's game."

Playing for the second time in as many nights, Montreal couldn't build off its road win in New York and fell 5-2 on home ice to Pittsburgh on Wednesday. David Desharnais gave the Canadiens a brief 2-1 lead with his first NHL goal early in the second, but the Penguins answered with two goals in that period and two more in the third and atoned for a loss at the Bell Centre the previous week. Even without Sidney Crosby in the lineup, they struck for four power-play goals.

"We just weren't sharp," captain Brian Gionta said. "We took a few too many penalties and you get out of the rhythm of the game, you get out of the flow of the game, and obviously we weren't very sharp on the PK."

Who's hot:
His three-game assist streak came to an end Thursday, but Lundqvist is sizzling in net for the Rangers with a 5-1-1 record in his last seven starts and no more than two goals allowed in any game. … Mathieu Darche has 1 goal and 3 assists during a four-game points streak for the Canadiens.

Injury report:
New York lost forward Alex Frolov for the season to a knee injury, and forwards Vinny Prospal (knee), Derek Boogaard (shoulder), Ryan Callahan (hand) and Erik Christensen (knee) are also out. … Cammalleri and Pacioretty are question marks Saturday for Montreal, while Markov and Gorges are out.

Stat pack:
The Rangers are 18-0-0 this season when leading after two periods. … Desharnais, an undrafted free agent, had 27 goals and 78 points for AHL Hamilton last season. He has 3 points in 11 games over parts of two seasons with the Canadiens.

Puck drop:
Tortorella poked fun at himself after Thursday's game for an earlier suggestion that New York needed to score some goals because a 1-0 win over Vancouver would be unrealistic.

"I was hoping they'd tie it up there at the end, just so we could win it in overtime and I wouldn't have to hear it from you guys," he joked with the media in his post-game press conference.

"It's pretty funny he said that before the game," Lundqvist added. "But I didn’t expect a 1-0 game against this team either. That's a really great team, a great-skating team. Our guys worked so hard, we shut down their top line, we just did a really good job playing our game. It's a great win for us."

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