NEW YORK (AP) — After a lackluster performance in a Game 3 loss, the New York Rangers came out aggressive early on Tuesday night. They managed the puck better and kept the pressure off their own net.
And now their series against Montreal is even.
Rick Nash and Jesper Fast scored, Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves and the Rangers beat the Canadiens 2-1 to tie their first-round playoff series at two games apiece.
“The guys were playing on their toes,” Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. “They wanted to compete, wanted to battle and wanted the puck on their sticks.”
New York’s win also ended a six-game losing streak at home in the playoffs going back to the 2015 Eastern Conference Final.
“We needed this for so many reasons,” Lundqvist said. “It’s no secret we’ve been really disappointed with the way things have been going at home the past two years here in the playoffs, so we needed this win for this series, but also moving forward.”
Torrey Mitchell scored for Montreal and Carey Price made 30 saves.
“They were desperate tonight,” Price said of the Rangers. “They executed a pretty good game plan. You have to give that team credit, they played well tonight.”
Game 5 is Thursday night in Montreal before the series returns to Madison Square Garden on Saturday.
“We came into MSG with a chance to even it out — make it a 2-2 series — that’s what we did — and now we go to Montreal and there’s a three game series,” Rangers forward Derek Stepan said.
The Rangers, who gave up the tying goal with 18 seconds left in the third period of Game 2 before losing in overtime, stopped Montreal in the final minutes in this one.
“After what happened in Montreal, you know for sure that the game is not over until it’s over,” Lundqvist said. “We worked really hard until the end, made some big plays, made blocks when we had to. I felt like we had a few more chances, but in the end it’s about finding a way to win.”
Lundqvist has been stellar in the series with a 1.89 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage.
He kept the Rangers from falling behind early on as he stopped Andrew Shaw on a breakaway midway through the first period.
About a minute later, Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov misplayed the puck along the boards and Fast grabbed the loose puck and slid it through the legs of Price for an unassisted goal at 11:39 to open the scoring.
The Canadiens tied it late in the period. Alexander Radulov eluded the check of Brady Skjei near the Rangers’ bench and passed the puck to Mitchell, who started a 2-on-1 break with Shea Weber and Mitchell scored into an open net with 1:23 remaining. Radulov earned his fourth assist of the series on the play.
The Rangers controlled the play for most of the second period as the Canadiens had only one shot on goal in the first 11 minutes.
“The first period we worked hard,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. “I thought the first 10 minutes we handled it pretty well and then a couple of breakaways you wish you could have capitalized on — at least one.
“The second period, I think we had a poor outing. In the second and third period we tried, but we weren’t able to find the back of the net.”
Nash gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead early in the second. McDonagh kept the puck in the zone and sent a nice pass to Nash near the front of the net and he slipped a backhand past Price at 4:28 for his second of the series.
“It was a great play by Ryan McDonagh to find me going to the net. I was trying to go to the net all night and trying to cause some chaos,” Nash said.
NOTES: Looking to spark the offense, Pavel Buchnevich, who was a healthy scratch for the first three games of this series, was in the lineup for Rangers. D Nick Holden was also in the lineup. Tanner Glass, who scored in Game 1, and Kevin Klein were among the scratches. … The Rangers are 0 for 12 on the power play in the series. … The Rangers’ previous home playoff win was in Game 1 of the 2015 Eastern Conference Final against Tampa Bay. … Both teams have scored eight goals in this series.
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