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Rangers try to end victory drought in Montreal

by Brian Hunter

RANGERS (9-9-0) at CANADIENS (10-8-2)


Last 10: New York 7-3-0; Montreal 4-4-2

Season series: This is the second of three meetings between the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens. In the Rangers' first game this season at the renovated Madison Square Garden, they were defeated 2-0 by the Canadiens on Oct. 28. Tomas Plekanec and Alex Galchenyuk had the goals and Peter Budaj stopped all 27 shots he faced.

Big story: While the Canadiens come off a 3-2 shootout win against the Columbus Blue Jackets, this marks the front end of a back-to-back for the Rangers, who return home to host the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday. Coach Alain Vigneault will start rookie Cam Talbot on Saturday and hold Henrik Lundqvist for the game back at the Garden. In his career, Lundqvist is 4-5-2 with a 3.87 goals-against average and .876 save percentage at Bell Centre. His last appearance there was Jan. 15, 2012. Carey Price will be in net for the Habs after Budaj made 23 saves and denied all three Columbus shootout attempts Friday night.

Team Scope:

Rangers: Coming off a 3-2 home loss to the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday, the injury news has been positive during the week for New York. Center Dominic Moore is set to return from an oblique strain that has sidelined him since Oct. 29, while wing Rick Nash skated without a no-contact jersey in practice Friday and is traveling with the team. Nash has played in just three games this season.

Now the Rangers have to figure out the Canadiens. They've lost four straight in the series and eight in a row at Bell Centre since a 4-3 shootout win on March 17, 2009. That includes being shut out five times.

"We've got to come out flying," Talbot said. "We know they're going to come out pretty hot in their own building so we've got to match their intensity and their tempo and maybe weather the storm for the first five minutes and then go at them."

Canadiens: David Desharnais has been much-maligned in Montreal of late. A 60-point scorer two seasons ago, he has one assist in 18 games and has missed a pair as a healthy scratch.

Desharnais still doesn't have an official goal after Friday, but he was the only player to connect in the shootout as the Canadiens rallied from a 2-0 deficit. Galchenyuk's goal with 7.8 seconds left in the first period started the comeback and Lars Eller scored on the power play in the second.

"He played well," coach Michel Therrien said of Desharnais. "He started on the fourth line and I saw his intensity. I liked the way he practiced this week and I was not afraid to make some changing during the game. He created some chances 5-on-5. I'm really glad for him for his confidence."

Who's hot: Ryan McDonagh has two goals and three assists during a four-game point streak for the Rangers. Mats Zuccarello has one goal and three assists during a four-game point streak. … Eller and Galchenyuk each have two goals and two assists in the Canadiens' past three games.

Injury report: There is still no definitive timetable on Nash's return, while forward Taylor Pyatt (concussion) also remains on injured reserve for New York. … Defensemen Alexei Emelin (knee) could be back in Montreal's lineup Saturday. Forward Brendan Gallagher (flu-like symptoms) missed the game Friday. Defenseman Davis Drewiske (shoulder) is out long-term.

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