Some games throughout the season don’t deserve a highlight-by-highlight walk through from the first quality scoring chance to the final goal of the game. When the Rangers faced off against Montreal on a Saturday night in early March, it was one of those games.
So I won’t tell you in any detail about the puck that deflected past Henrik Lundqvist in off Adam Clendening that would have missed the net by 15 feet, nor will I walk you through the one meaningful Rangers goal scored by Chris Kreider on a rebound of his initial shot.
This game was decided in the first five minutes when the Canadiens hemmed the Rangers in their own zone, recovering pucks, keeping them in at their own blueline and peppering New York’s net with pucks. The rest of the period and through much of the game, Montreal disrupted the Rangers’ attack through the neutral zone and pinned them deep.
The Blueshirts would have moments in the second period. They would even dominate for a few consecutive shifts. They would get some decent scoring chances, but they still ended a frame that had significantly more good moments than the first by giving up two more goals.
In the third, the barely described Kreider goal would create some short-lived enthusiasm from the Rangers’ crowd, but newly acquired Canadiens defenseman Jordie Benn would score the fourth goal for Montreal and any hope of winning a game they were badly outplayed in would fall by the wayside.
There was a single bright spot for the Blueshirts and that was Pavel Buchnevich. If the rest of his teammates were operating at about a four out of ten, Buchnevich was up near a nine. He was quick on pucks, battling and more importantly playing creatively and opening room on the ice. He got good, hard shots on goal, made defenders run out of position and passed to send in players who should have gotten quality scoring chances. On his best play, he froze Carey Price and then instead of shooting, hit a streaking Rick Nash for a tap in. Only Nash inexplicably tried to cut to the middle rather than bury the puck and ended up bowling over Price as he tried to recover. No penalty was called as the Canadiens goalie was well out of the net.
The Rangers would go out with a whimper. The only bright side to this game and their overall lack of scoring over the past eight games is that they are improving their chances of finishing in the first Wild Card spot and escaping the dominate Metropolitan division.
Assorted musings: The Rangers failed to generate any power plays; Oscar Lindberg has three goals on eleven shots in his last seven games, tonight’s included; Kreider scored his career high 24th goal of the season; The Rangers lost their third game of their last four.