Defenseman Dan Girardi said after Friday's loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs that the beauty of the NHL is that teams don't have to wait long for their next game.
Well, the Rangers won't have to wait long to get back to action following Friday's 4-2 loss, as they head to Montreal to take on the Canadiens Saturday night.
New York was mostly pleased with the way they played against Toronto at 5-on-5, but the difference was on special teams. The Rangers went scoreless on six power play chances and surrendered two goals in four shorthanded situations.
There were positives, though, as Chris Kreider scored his eighth goal in as many games, while forwards Rick Nash and Pavel Buchnevich returned to action after injuries. Buchnevich, who will not play against Montreal as the Rangers ease him back after a two-month absence, picked up an assist in his return and now has nine points in 11 games this season.
Goaltender Antti Raanta is expected to get the start for the Rangers after Henrik Lundqvist played in Friday's loss. Raanta has not played since Dec. 29 against the Arizona Coyotes. He is 10-4-0 this season with a 2.28 GAA and a .921 SV% with a pair of shutouts.
Saturday marks the first of three meetings between the Rangers and Montreal Canadiens, and the only one north of the boarder.
The Canadiens come into tonight's game atop the Atlantic Division with a comfortable nine-point cushion, but are coming off a lopsided 7-1 loss to Minnesota Wednesday night.
Captain Max Pacioretty leads the team with 19 goals and 35 points through 43 games this season, and has four points in his last five contests. Alexander Radulov has 32 points in 41 games in his first season back in the NHL after spending time in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League over the past several years.
Shea Weber has been a strong addition to Montreal's blueline with 10 goals and 28 points in his first 43 games in a Montreal sweater.
Goaltender Carey Price is a midseason Vezina Trophy candidate as he brings his 20-7-4 record into tonight's matchup with the Rangers. He was in goal for all seven goals against the Wild and has lost his last two starts.
Like the Rangers, Montreal has dealt with several key injuries this season, and also like the Rangers, they're starting to get healthy. Both forwards Alex Galchenyuk and Andrew Shaw, as well as defenseman Andrei Markov, could return to the lineup Saturday against New York. Both David David Desharnais and Brendan Gallagher are out with long-term injuries.