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Rangers Hit the Road for Trip to Montreal to Face Canadiens

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

Rangers (3-6-2, 8 pts) at Canadiens (2-7-1, 5 pts)
7 pm, Bell Centre
MSG Network; ESPN 98.7 FM

The Game

After six straight games at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers hit the road for just the third time this season as the Blueshirts head to Montreal to take on the Canadiens at Bell Centre.

New York is heading north of the boarder feeling good about itself following a 5-2 victory Thursday night against the Coyotes, led by a the newly-formed line of Boo Nieves between Michael Grabner and Pavel Buchnevich. The unit combined for four goals and seven points in the win, including three assists from the rookie Nieves.

Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec made 27 saves in his first win as a Ranger, and his strong play earned him the start Saturday night as the Rangers look for its first winning streak of the young season.

Coach Alain Vigneault did not appear to change his lineup, as all four forward lines and three defensive pairs remained untouched from the night before.

Montreal enters Saturday's game earning just one win in its last nine games, most recently a 4-0 loss to Los Angeles on Thursday evening. 

The Canadiens are struggling on both sides of the puck. Montreal's 18 goals for in 10 games is the fewest in the NHL, while its 38 goals against is the third highest in the Eastern Conference.

The Habs haven't finished a game this season with fewer than 30 shots on goal, including a 51-shot effort against Anaheim last Friday night. The shots are there, but they're not finding holes, as the Canadiens are leading the NHL with 38.4 shots per game, but have a league-worst 4.4 percent shooting percentage.

The newly acquired Jonathan Drouin leads the team with seven points in 10 games, while Brendan Gallagher and Shea Weber share the team lead in goals with three. 

Like his team, Carey Price has struggled out of the gate with just two wins in nine starts and has a 3.60 GAA and a .887 SV%. 

Players to Watch

Buchnevich posted his first multi-goal game of his young career on Thursday night, and on Friday praised his new linemates for his success against the Coyotes. The winger is getting ample opportunities on a near nightly basis, but hadn't gotten the bounces to go his way. That change against the Coyotes, and both he and his team is hopeful it's a springboard to more success.

Price has struggled this season, but he's had success against the Rangers throughout his career. The 30-year-old is 15-6-1 with a .939 SV% and a 1.83 GAA against with seven shutouts against the Rangers in 23 games. Price has won eight of his last nine games against New York, with the lone loss coming earlier this season at Madison Square Garden.

Say What?

"They throw a lot of pucks at the net. They drive to the net. There's always bodies in front of you, so it's going to be a challenge to find the puck and make those saves." - Ondrej Pavelec 

Rangers Project Lineup

Rick Nash - Mika Zibanejad - J.T. Miller
Chris Kreider - David Desharnais - Mats Zuccarello
Jimmy Vesey - Kevin Hayes - Jesper Fast
Michael Grabner - Boo Nieves - Pavel Buchnevich

Ryan McDonagh - Brendan Smith
Marc Staal - Kevin Shattenkirk
Brady Skjei - Nick Holden

Ondrej Pavelec

Inside the Numbers

Nine of the last 15 regular season meetings between the Rangers and Canadiens have resulted in a shutout for one of the two teams (dating back to Feb. 23, 2013).

Including playoff games, the Rangers have won five of their last 10 road contests against the Canadiens in Montreal, dating back to Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final in 2014.

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