RANGERS (28-10-4) at CANADIENS (16-20-8)
TV: NBCSP (HD); RDS, TSN-HABS
LAST 10: New York 8-2-0; Montreal 3-6-1
Season Series: The Original Six rivals are meeting for the third time this season. They split the first two, with the Rangers winning 5-3 at home on Nov. 5 and losing 4-0 at the Bell Centre two weeks later. The Rangers have dropped their last five visits to Montreal, where they are 64-197-40-2 all-time.
Big Story: If ever the Rangers seemed primed for a win in a city where they've struggled for decades, this would be the night. New York is on top of the overall standings after a dominating 3-0 win at Toronto on Saturday, while the Habs continued to tumble out of the playoff race with a 3-2 shootout loss to Ottawa.
Rangers: Coach John Tortorella knows how to get his point across. After lacing into his team for its poor showing in Thursday's 3-0 home loss to Ottawa, the Rangers responded by controlling play throughout the game against Toronto, denying the speedy Leafs time and space. They were credited with 47 hits, 27 of them in a first period that set the game's tone -- even though the first 20 minutes ended scoreless.
In other words, they played the way their coach wanted them to while winning for the 10th time in 12 games.
"That's a big part of our game," Tortorella said of the physical, shutdown style the Rangers used to bottle up Toronto's offense. "That's the way we have to play. We're not talented enough, we're not a good enough team if we don't play the way we're supposed to play. We define that as a team. We've developed an identity as a team."
Canadiens: Not much is going right these days in Montreal, and even getting a point with a sixth-attacker goal wasn't enough on Saturday. Max Pacioretty tied the game in the final minute after the Canadiens pulled Carey Price for an extra skater, but the Habs couldn't score in the shootout and saw Ottawa win the tiebreaker when Daniel Alfredsson connected after the first five shooters failed.
Montreal begins the night eight points behind eighth-place Washington in the East.
"I think we're headed in the right direction," Price said. "Guys are working hard.
"I think we deserve better, but we can't keep using that one, so I don't know what to say any more."
Who's Hot: Biron improved to 9-2-0 by blanking the Leafs; one of the two losses came the last time the Rangers came to Montreal.
Injury Report: The Rangers have been without forward Brandon Dubinsky (shoulder) for the past two games. Defenseman Michael Sauer (concussion) and Steve Eminger (shoulder) are out indefinitely. … Montreal got former Ranger Scott Gomez (groin) back on Saturday after a 21-game absence. Captain Brian Gionta (biceps surgery) is out indefinitely. Andrei Markov (knee) and Ryan White (sports hernia surgery) remain on IR. Montreal will have newcomer Rene Bourque in the lineup for the first time; he sat out the last of his five-game suspension on Saturday, two days after being acquired from Calgary.
Stat Pack: The Rangers are now 6-0-1 in the front end of back-to-back games -- and are 5-0-1 in the back end entering this game. Since 2009-10, New York is 26-8-3 in the second game of back-to-backs. … The Canadiens are 1-6 in shootouts this season.
Puck Drop: Sunday night games aren't common in Montreal, but Sunday night visits by the Rangers during the regular season are an extreme rarity. This one marks just the fifth time the Rangers have come to Montreal for a Sunday game -- not many when you consider that this is the Rangers' 304th visit. The last one was on Super Bowl Sunday in 2008, when the Rangers won 5-3 in an afternoon game -- which was also their last regulation win in Montreal. The other Sunday games were played in 1942, 1970 and 2000.