By Tom Castro
(AP) — Wojtek Wolski came close to delivering the tying goal against the Montreal Canadiens in his New York Rangers debut earlier this week, but he just missed and his new team lost.
After coming up big in perhaps New York’s most impressive win of the season, Wolski gets another shot at Montreal as the surging Rangers look to snap a three-game skid to the Canadiens on Saturday night.
Wolski’s second-period power-play goal lifted the Rangers to a 1-0 victory over NHL-leading Vancouver on Thursday, ending the Canucks’ 17-game unbeaten streak in regulation. It was Wolski’s second game with New York (26-16-3) after being acquired from Phoenix on Monday.
“I can already feel, after two games, the kind of team chemistry and work ethic we have here,” he said. “I am excited.”
Wolski nearly delivered his first big moment with the Rangers against Montreal on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. With New York down one with 3 minutes left, the winger’s shot hit goaltender Alex Auld’s pad and slid harmlessly across the crease, and the Rangers fell 2-1.
The loss was the Rangers’ third straight in the series, and New York has also dropped two in a row at the Bell Centre. It’s 1-2-2 in its last five visits to Montreal and the last one was particularly forgettable, a 6-0 defeat Jan. 23.
Henrik Lundqvist was chased in the second period of that game after allowing four goals, and he gave up a soft goal to Benoit Pouliot in the third period Tuesday that proved to be the winner. Lundqvist, though, made 31 saves Thursday for his sixth shutout of the season and is 5-1-1 with a 1.41 goals-against average in his last seven starts.
He seems likely to be back in net as New York tries to avoid its first four-game losing streak to Montreal (24-17-3) since Oct. 11, 2002-April 5, 2003. The Rangers have totaled two goals during the three-game slide.
The Rangers, though, bring some momentum into Saturday’s game. They’ve won four of five and gone 6-2-1 in their last nine contests, giving up three goals only once during that span.
“We are growing as a team,” said coach John Tortorella, whose club has won consecutive games on the road. “Everyone contributed to this win. And it was a real good answer to a very tough loss to Montreal the other night. That’s what I liked most about tonight’s game.”
The Rangers have the league’s best record in one-goal games at 13-3-3.
Montreal’s victory over the New York on Tuesday was its third straight, but that run came to end in a 5-2 defeat to Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
Carey Price returned to the net and stopped 31 shots. Despite giving up all five goals, he’ll probably start Saturday despite a career 3.35 GAA against the Rangers and Auld’s 4-0-2 record and 0.97 GAA versus New York.
“We have the Rangers coming up on Saturday and that’s going to be a huge game that we have to win,” center Tomas Plekanec said. “It’s going to be a very similar situation to our second game against Pittsburgh (within a week) but we obviously want to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen.”
Forward Michael Cammalleri has six goals in his last three games against the Rangers, but he missed his second game in a row because of the flu Tuesday and is uncertain for this game.
Montreal is 7-2-1 in its last 10 games overall versus the Rangers.
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