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Bounces go wrong way in 2-1 loss

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky, who scored his 17th goal of the season in the opening period, wheels around Montreal's Jeff Halpern behind the Canadiens' net on Tuesday night at The Garden.

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By Jim Cerny,

The Rangers got off to a quick start and played a strong game on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. Unfortunately, they could not find a way to put away the Montreal Canadiens and as a result dropped a 2-1 decision that brought to an end their three-game winning streak.

Montreal’s Benoit Pouliot scored the game-winning goal at 6:03 of the third period on a rush down left wing with a shot from the lower circle that snuck past Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. The goal snapped a 1-1 tie and held up despite a slew of late scoring chances for the home team.

“We wanted this win and I thought we played really well,” said Lundqvist, who finished with 36 saves. “I just felt like it just wasn’t our night. Obviously it’s disappointing to come up short at home where it’s fun to be back playing now that we’re off the road.”

The loss was the Blueshirts’ first in regulation at MSG in six games dating back to Dec. 5. The Rangers are now 4-1-1 in their last six at The Garden.

“Good teams find ways to win these games,” said Brandon Dubinsky. “We have to capitalize better on our scoring chances, especially with an early lead.”

In extremely fitting fashion for a game being played on Jan. 11, 2011 (1/11/11), the Rangers and Canadiens reached the second intermission tied 1-1, on a goal scored with 1:11 remaining in the middle stanza. And somewhat eerily, both teams recorded 11 shots on goal in that second period.

Montreal’s Jaroslav Spacek scored the tying goal late in the second as the Canadiens successfully crashed Lundqvist’s crease, and the puck wedged its way between the post and his right leg. After a brief delay the on-ice officials ruled that the puck had crossed the goal line, and that decision was upheld by video review.

Forward Wojtek Wolski made his Rangers debut Tuesday against the Canadiens, skating at left wing on a line with Marian Gaborik and Artem Anisimov.
Before the period actually ended, Lundqvist made a brilliant left-pad save to deny Max Pacioretty off a Montreal rush in the waning seconds to keep the score tied heading into the final period of play.

“They’re a good team,” Lundqvist said of the Canadiens, who are now two points behind the Rangers for sixth place in the Eastern Conference. “They’re a really good skating team. I thought both teams played really well. It was a fun game.”

Dubinsky had provided the Rangers a 1-0 lead by scoring his team-leading 17th goal just 4:15 into the opening period. Taking a neat Matt Gilroy pass that was banked off the right-wing boards, Dubinsky burst into the offensive zone past defenseman Hal Gill, and finished with a close-range forehand shot that whistled past former Blueshirts’ netminder Alex Auld.

The Rangers had several excellent chances to increase their lead -- perhaps none better than Chris Drury’s booming slap shot that blew right past Auld only to hammer off the goal post 12 minutes into the second -- but failed to do so. Montreal then capitalized after Lundqvist had stopped the Canadiens’ first 22 shots on goal.

“We had our chances,” said Lundqvist, who earlier in the day was selected to play in the 2011 NHL All-Star Game along with Blueshirts defenseman Marc Staal. “We hit a post and had a bunch of close scoring chances. But we just couldn’t get that next goal.”

All eyes at The Garden were certainly fixed to the newest Ranger, winger Wojtek Wolski, who was acquired from the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for veteran defenseman Michal Rozsival on Monday. Wolski made his debut with the Blueshirts, beginning the night skating on the left side of Marian Gaborik and Artem Anisimov as well taking a spot on the top power play unit.

Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist makes one of his 36 saves. Lundqvist was particularly strong in the first period when he stopped all 14 Montreal shots.
While his first shift just 34 seconds into the game was uneventful, Wolski showed the tremendous offensive skill he possesses already on his second shift. Deftly losing his defensive mark, Wolski skated into the slot where Gaborik found him with a perfect cross-ice feed from right wing. Without hesitation Wolski one-timed a hard, low shot on net which required a strong save from Auld.

“I thought the chemistry with our line was pretty good,” said Wolski. “We created a lot of opportunities, but they didn’t go in tonight. Hopefully they continue and they do go in next game.”

Later in the second period, Wolski danced around a Canadiens defenseman at the blueline -- passing the puck to himself off the boards in the process -- then spun a centering pass into the low slot that caromed off Gaborik’s skate and led directly to Dubinsky’s point-blank shot that was snuffed out by Auld’s left pad.

And with less than two minutes remaining in the game, Wolski slipped a puck past Auld that hit the post and slid back into the crease before being swept away by the alert Montreal defense.

“I thought it hit the post and went in, and I expected it to from the angle I was shooting from,” explained Wolski. “I guess it hit him in the back and went across the line. It was a lucky bounce that went their way.”

The Rangers will get a chance to avenge this loss on Saturday night when they skate against the Canadiens up in Montreal. However, they must first host the Vancouver Canucks at The Garden on Thursday night.
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