NEW YORK (AP) -- When the Montreal Canadiens miss the postseason four times
in five years, playoff talk tends to start earlier than usual.
The New York Rangers can certainly relate.
In an Original Six matchup Wednesday night, the Canadiens got a third-period
goal from Jan Bulis and beat the Rangers 2-1. Montreal is eighth in the Eastern
Conference -- which would be the final playoff spot in April -- and increased its
lead over the ninth-place Rangers to three points.
"It was a playoff game," Bulis said. "It's early in the season, but still
it's a team we're battling with. It's a four-point game."
Chris Simon scored in the second period for New York, which lost for the
fourth time in five games and the third straight at home. The Rangers, out of
the playoffs six straight years, are 0-7 in one-goal games.
"I don't think we played a bad game tonight, but I don't think we played a
great game," Rangers captain Mark Messier said. "It's one of those games
where whoever got the second goal was going to be the winner."
The Canadiens rebounded from a tough home loss Monday to Philadelphia, when
they squandered a third-period lead.
Many Canadiens said they were outplayed early by New York, but deserved the
better fate they had in this third period.
"The players realized that New York's just a point behind us, they've got a
game in hand and how important is this game if we want to stay in playoff
contention," Montreal coach Claude Julien said.
Bulis got free in the right circle, curled around and snapped a wrist shot
over Mike Dunham's glove at 6:12 for the winner.
"I had lots of time," Bulis said. "I don't know if he was screened or if
he expected it somewhere else."
Bulis also assisted on Mike Ribeiro's goal in the first period that gave
Montreal a 1-0 lead.
Martin Rucinsky missed an open net midway through the third that would have
tied it at 2 for New York. The Rangers were bailed out on the ensuing two
Montreal rushes when the Canadiens caught the goal posts twice.
Jose Theodore made 28 saves, including 15 in the first period, and endured
two scary moments just before Montreal regained the lead.
Anson Carter beat Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov on a short-handed rush,
but couldn't get the puck past Theodore. Moments later, Theodore came out near
the blue line to beat a rushing Greg de Vries to a loose puck. Bulis scored the
next time up ice.
"That was the turning point," Theodore said. "They missed a big chance
and we were able to get the lead afterward."
Dunham made 21 saves, but lost for the third time in four games.
"You can't lose a game like that at home," Rangers coach Glen Sather said.
"It's sad to give up the last two games the way we've done it, but we've done
Simon got the Rangers even at 1 less than four minutes after he left the
penalty box following a fight with former Rangers forward Darren Langdon.
Messier won a faceoff and slid the puck back to de Vries at the blue line.
De Vries sent a crossing pass down to Simon, who slammed a shot in at 10:01.
Simon has five goals this season, two in four games.
After going without a point in seven games, de Vries has a goal and assist
in the past two.
A breakdown in the Rangers zone led to Montreal scoring first. New York
forward Jan Hlavac was locked in a battle in the corner, and de Vries came down
The puck came loose and was picked up by Michael Ryder, who came around the
back of the Rangers net. When he got in front, he found Ribeiro -- left alone by
de Vries at the right post -- for his fifth.