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Rangers beat Montreal in shootout to take Eastern Conference battle 4-3

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

MONTREAL - Markus Naslund, Nik Antropov and Chris Drury all scored in a shootout as the New York Rangers downed the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 in a battle of NHL Eastern Conference playoff contenders on Tuesday night.

With the win, the Rangers pulled into a tie with Pittsburgh for fifth place in the conference while Montreal dropped to seventh.

The Rangers made all three shootout attempts count, as Alex Kovalev and Andrei Markov scored for Montreal.

In regulation time, Kovalev, Markov and Maxim Lapierre scored for the Canadiens (36-25-9), who had beaten the Rangers 6-2 and 6-3 in their previous meetings this season. Montreal is now 1-1-2 since Bob Gainey replaced Guy Carbonneau behind the bench.

Antropov, Nikolai Zherdev and Ryan Callahan scored for the Rangers (37-26-8), who held one-goal leads three times. With the win, John Tortorella passed Peter Laviolette as the all-time leader in wins by a U.S.-born coach with 245.

The crowd booed relatively quiet Rangers bad boy Sean Avery each time he was on the ice, but particularly in the first frame when he fell on Carey Price in the crease. Later, he dropped to the ice from an elbow by Glen Metropolit, but didn't get the call.

The teams played through a scoreless first period in which both Price and Henrik Lundqvist were sharp.

The Rangers struck first with the teams each short one man as Antropov banged in Chris Drury's rebound at 7:13 of the second period on a rush. It was his third straight game with a goal, and the former Toronto Maple Leaf has four goals in seven games since being traded to New York.

Montreal tied it on a power play at 19:26, as Kovalev, back after missing two games with a flu, blasted a diagonal pass from Andrei Markov into an open side. Markov picked up his career-high 44th assist on the play.

Zherdev burst down the right wing and saw his shot go off Tomas Plekanec's stick and sail over Price's shoulder for his 20th of the season 5:32 into the third period.

Lapierre struck only 40 seconds later on a counterattack as he put a move on defenceman Dan Girardi and beat Lundqvist high to the glove side.

The Rangers dominated the third period and looked to have it won when Brandon Dubinsky tried to jam the puck in and Callahan slid the rebound under Price at 10:58.

But at 15:07, a turnover at the Montreal blue-line saw Markov tear down the left wing and beat Lundqvist inside the post from a tight angle to tie the game. At that point, it was only Montreal's third shot of the period, compared to 16 by New York.

Notes - Alex Kovalev returned from Montreal after missing two games with a flu, only to have Alex Tanguay come down with the same illness. Guillaume Latendresse returned after missing 19 games with a shoulder injury. Ryan O'Byrne and Mathieu Dandenault were scratched. . . Aaron Voros did not dress for New York. . . Among the crowd was IBF super-middleweight champion Lucian Bute.

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