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Rangers Return Home Looking for First Win Against Montreal

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

Rangers (0-2-0, 0 pts) vs Canadiens (1-1-0, 2 pts)
7 pm, MSG Network, ESPN 98.7 FM

The Game

New York heads home to take on the Montreal Canadiens Sunday night at Madison Square Garden following an 8-5 loss Saturday night in Toronto.

After falling behind 5-1 in the first period, the Rangers rallied to tie the game before surrendering three unanswered goals in the third period.

The Rangers' power play was once again effective, going 2-for-3 on the night, with Mika Zibanejad scoring his third of the season and Kevin Shattenkirk picking up his first tally as a Ranger.

The plan for Sunday was for backup goaltender Ondrej Pavelec to make his Rangers debut, but that came a night early after Pavelec replaced Henrik Lundqvist after the first period. Lundqvist surrendered five goals in the first 20 minutes and was relieved by Pavelec. After the game, Alain Vigneault said a decision on his starter for Sunday had not been decided.

Montreal is coming off a road loss of its own Saturday night, dropping a 6-1 decision in Washington that saw Alex Ovechkin score four goals.

Like Lundqvist, Carey Price was pulled after allowing four goals in the first period. A decision on Montreal's starter is in flux as well.

The Canadiens have had trouble scoring early in the season, with just three goals through two games, though one ended in a victory over Buffalo Thursday night. Just seven players have registered a point through the two games.

Players to Watch

David Desharnais will face his former team for just the second time in his career Sunday night. The center played parts of eight seasons with the Habs before being sent to Edmonton midway through last season. The 31-year-old is a native of Laurier-Station, Quebec.

For the second consecutive offseason, Montreal made a splash on the trade market, this summer bringing in young forward Jonathan Drouin from Tampa Bay. The 22-year-old is coming off his breakout season with the Lightning, scoring 21 goals and adding 32 assists for 53 points in 73 games. Thus far, he has one assists through two games as a Canadien.

Say what?

"I need to be better. It was a period where they were just all over us. There was no structure really in our own end. I was not able to come up with enough saves." - Henrik Lundqvist on the first period in Saturday's loss to Toronto.

"There's no doubt we need to start better. Our whole group is aware of it. We're going to get the opportunity tomorrow to get right back at it. It's probably the best thing for us." - Alain Vigneault 

Inside the Numbers

Sunday marks the conclusion of the first of 11 back-to-back games for the Rangers this season. The Rangers went 11-5-0 in the second game of back-to-backs last year, and in their last 98 back-to-backs since the start of the 2010-11 season, New York is 64-28-6 in the second game.

The Rangers have four power play goals in nine opportunities this season, good enough for a 44.4 percent success rate. New York's four power play goals in the first two games of the season marks the first time they've reached that feat since 2000-01. 

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