NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals Game #3: Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers

2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Eastern Conference Finals – Game #3

Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers
Rangers Lead Best Of Seven Series 2-0
Madison Square Garden – New York City, New York
Thursday, May 22, 2014, 8:05 pm Eastern, TV: NBC Sports
Opening Line: New York -180 / Montreal +160
Current Line: New York -175 / Montreal +155
Opening Total: under 5 -110 / over 5 -110
Current Total: under 5 -120 / over 5 +100

The Rangers look to take a 3-0 series lead at home against Montreal Canadiens in game three of the Eastern Conference Finals Thursday.

The Rangers look to take a 3-0 series lead at home against Montreal Canadiens in game three of the Eastern Conference Finals Thursday.

The Montreal Canadiens are looking for their 25th Stanley Cup and first since 1993. However, those chances took a serious hit when goalie Carey Price suffered a knee injury in the second period of game one of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers. New York would go on to win that game 7-2. Price is out for the remainder of the playoffs.

Dustin Tokarski took over as the Canadiens’ netminder in game two for Price. Tokarski only played in two games during the regular season and was making his first career playoff start. The Rangers won 3-1 Monday night to take a 2-0 series lead back to New York. The Rangers are now two wins away from their first Stanley Cup Final since 1994.

Game three is Thursday night at Madison Square Garden. This is a virtual must win for Montreal as only four teams in NHL history have ever come back from a 3-0 series deficit to win a seven game series. The Los Angeles Kings accomplished the feat in the first round of this year’s playoffs against the San Jose Sharks.

Montreal scored first in game two six minutes into the game on an unassisted goal from Max Pacioretty. However, New York tied it up 17 seconds later on an unassisted goal from Ryan McDonagh. Rick Nash scored for the second time in two games with just over a minute to go in the first to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead. Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan assisted on the goal. Nash had not scored a goal in the postseason before this series. Martin St. Louis gave the Rangers a 3-1 lead 8 minutes into the second period on a power play goal assisted by Stepan and McDonagh. Neither team would score again as the Rangers won both games in Montreal.

New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist continued his stellar play during the postseason allowing just the one goal on 41 shots faced. Nineteen of those shots came in the third period. Tokarski faced 30 shots and stopped 27 of them. New York was 1-3 on the power play and Montreal was 0 for 4. Montreal won 32 faceoffs and New York won 27.

New York is coached by Alain Vigneault. The Rangers are 55-37-3-3 this season and the total was 30-41-11 during the regular season. Montreal is coached by Michel Therrien.  The Canadiens are 54-33-5-3 this season and the total was 28-42-12 during the regular season.

Montreal is outscoring teams 3.00-2.77 in the playoffs. The Canadiens are fourth in goals scored and eighth in goals allowed. Montreal is averaging 30.6 shots per game and giving up 30.5 per game. The Canadiens are 10/45 on the power play (22.2%). Montreal is 74.3% on the penalty kill and has allowed 9 power play goals. The Canadiens have scored two short handed goals and allowed one this post-season. Montreal is 47.9% on face-offs.

Price had a GAA of 2.36 in the playoffs with a .919 save percentage. He has one shutout. Price has allowed 29 goals in 358 shots this post-season. Peter Budaj played in the third period of game one after the Price injury but gave up 3 goals in 8 shots. Tokarski will continue to start, but Budaj could see some action if the young goalie struggles.

Defenseman P.K. Subban has 12 points for the Canadiens with 8 assists. Center Lars Eller has 11 points with 5 goals and six assists. Right wing Brendan Gallagher has 9 points with 5 assists. LW Thomas Vanek has 8 points with 5 goals. LW Max Pacioretty has 8 points with 4 goals. Center Tomas Plekanec has 7 points with 4 assists. Left wing Rene Bourque has 6 points with 5 goals. Center Daniel Briere has 6 points with 4 assists. Four players have 5 points. Defenseman Alexei Emelin is questionable for undisclosed reasons.

In the playoffs, New York is outscoring teams 2.75-2.06. The Rangers are 8th of the 16 playoff teams in scoring but are first in goals against. The Rangers are outshooting teams 28.9-28.8 in the playoffs. New York is 10 for 65 on the power play during the playoffs (15.4%). New York has allowed two short handed goals.  The Rangers are at 85.4% on the penalty kill and has allowed 7 power play goals. New York is 46.7% on face-offs.

Lundqvist has a 1.93 goals against average in the playoffs with a save percentage of .934. He has allowed 30 goals and faced 452 shots. During the last three games against the  Pittsburgh Penguins, Lundqvist made 102 of 105 saves to allow New York to come back and win the series from a 3-1 series deficit int he second round.

Right wing Martin St. Louis has 11 points with 5 goals and six assists. Right wing Mats Zuccarello has 11 points with 7 assists. Center Derek Stepan has 10 points with 7 assists. Center Brad Richards has 5 goals and 5 assists. Defenseman Ryan McDonagh has 9 points with 6 assists. LW Benoit Pouilot has 8 points with 5 assists. LW Rick Nash has 8 points with 6 assists. Left wing Carl Hagelin and  center Derick Brassard each have 7 points with 4 goals. Brassard is questionable for undisclosed reasons.

Montreal is 9-3 after scoring 2 goals or less in the previous game, 10-4 in road games, 16-7 against Eastern Conference teams, 9-4 on two days rest, 19-9 overall, 1-4 against Metropolitan Division teams, and 0-4 in conference finals games. The road team is 4-1 in this series recently.

New York is 5-0 against teams with winning records, overall and against Eastern Conference teams, 4-0 after allowing 2 goals or less in the previous game and after a win, and 5-2 against Atlantic Division teams. The under is 8-1-2 overall in this series and 14-6-2 in New York in the series.

The difference in this series so far has been the New York power play suddenly coming alive. New York had scored only 6 power goals total in the 14 previous playoff games, but the Rangers already have 4 in two games against the Canadiens. Montreal meanwhile is 0 for 7 on the power play in the series. The Canadiens entered this series leading the playoffs in goals scored per game, but has only scored three total goals in the first two games.

Lundqvist has been incredible in the postseason especially in the last 5 games. There is no way the Rangers would even be here if weren’t for Lundqvist. Toakrski wasn’t terrible in game two but he has to play even better in game three if the Canadiens have any shot at making this a series. I like New York to win but it will be a closer game than the first two.

Our hockey handicappers are red hot in the playoffs. Don’t miss out on any more winners.

 

 

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