GAME: Montreal Canadiens (12-12-3-1) at New York Rangers (10-10-5-2).
TIME: Wednesday, 7 p.m. EST.
Two teams hoping to move above .500 meet at Madison Square Garden when the
Montreal Canadiens open a three-game road trip against the New York Rangers.
The Rangers appeared to be building momentum after a season-high, four-game
unbeaten streak from Nov. 23-28 moved them two games over .500, but three
losses in four games have dropped them back to the break-even mark.
New York got back into the win column with a 4-2 victory over the archrival
New York Islanders on Thursday, but a poor third period Sunday resulted in a
3-2 loss to visiting Tampa Bay.
Anson Carter scored for the third straight game, and defenseman Greg de
Vries added his first goal with the Rangers, 0-4-0-2 this season in one-goal
"We played like what we are, a .500 hockey club," Rangers captain Mark
Messier said. "That's exactly where we sit and it's because we don't do the
things that it takes to win on a regular basis."
Tampa Bay's go-ahead goal came on the power play -- marking the sixth
straight game New York has allowed a goal while shorthanded.
Rangers goalie Mike Dunham has just one win in his last seven starts (1-4-2)
-- a stellar 37-save performance Thursday against the Islanders.
Montreal also failed to protect a third-period lead in its last game and
ended up with a 3-2 loss to red-hot Philadelphia on Monday.
Pierre Dagenais scored one goal and set up another for the Canadiens,
unbeaten in a season-best five straight (3-0-2) before Monday. The loss was
also Montreal's first this season in 10 games when leading after two periods.
Canadiens coach Claude Julien was pleased with his team despite the loss.
"If it wasn't our best game, it was close," Julien said. "I consider it
our best effort of the season. The only negative was the final score."
Richard Zednik's second-period goal was his seventh in the last nine games
and his team-leading ninth of the season.
With backup Mathieu Garon starting in net Monday, Jose Theodore figures to
start Wednesday. Theodore struggled in his first game this season against the
Rangers, allowing five goals on 27 shots in a 5-1 loss on Nov. 1.