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Rangers set to host Canadiens in home opener

by Corey Masisak /

CANADIENS (6-5-0) at RANGERS (3-6-0)


Season series: This is the first of three meetings this season between the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers, and Montreal's lone trip to Madison Square Garden. The Canadiens won all three meetings in 2012-13 and have won 10 of the past 13 matchups dating back to Jan. 23, 2010.

Big story: This is the first home game of the season for the Rangers, and the first time they play at Madison Square Garden with the final phase of the $1 billion renovations completed. They went 3-6-0 on their season-opening nine-game road trip.

Team scope:

Canadiens: Montreal lost three of the final four games during a five-game homestand. The Canadiens were outshot in all three of those games and yielded at least 32 shots in their past seven contests. Goaltender Carey Price has started 10 of the team's 11 games, and he is second in the League in both shots faced and saves behind Winnipeg's Ondrej Pavelec.

The recent shot disparity reached its nadir Saturday when the San Jose Sharks outshot the Canadiens 37-22. Montreal lost the game, 2-0.

"They were on us all night long," Brian Gionta told reporters. "We couldn't seem to generate much. We have to do a better job."

Rangers: New York's nine-game odyssey to start the season was broken into two segments -- five contests against teams in the Western Conference, followed by four against Eastern Conference foes. The West part was a disaster -- the Rangers went 1-4 and yielded 25 goals.

Playing closer to home has helped the team settle after the rocky start. The Rangers split the final four games, and one of the losses was a 2-1 decision in Philadelphia. They're still short three top-six forwards because of injury, but the return of goalie Henrik Lundqvist and forward Carl Hagelin -- not to mention nine of the next 12 games are at home -- could help the Rangers climb back into contention in the Metropolitan Division.

Who's hot: Tomas Plekanec has four goals and seven points in his past five games for the Canadiens. … The Rangers have scored 15 goals this season (29th in the League on a per-game average), and Brad Richards has five of them. No other healthy player has more than one.

Injury report: Doug Murray is expected to make his Canadiens debut against New York. Montreal sent Nathan Beaulieu and Greg Pateryn to the American Hockey League on Saturday, which left the Canadiens with six defensemen, including Murray. Defensemen Alexei Emelin (knee) and Davis Drewiske (shoulder) are long-term issues. Forward Max Pacioretty (hamstring) is expected to be out into mid-November. Forward Brandon Prust is expected to miss another three weeks because of a shoulder injury, while Daniel Briere (concussion) and George Parros (concussion) are out indefinitely.

The Rangers are expected to get a pair of injured players back soon. Lundqvist (undisclosed) is on target to play Monday against Montreal, and Hagelin (shoulder) could be back later in the week. Forward Ryan Callahan (broken thumb) is expected to be out until mid-November and Rick Nash (concussion) is out indefinitely.

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