Stanley Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals Game Four: Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers

2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Eastern Conference Finals – Game #4

Montreal Canadiens at New York Rangers
Rangers Lead Best Of Seven Series 2-1
Madison Square Garden – New York City, New York
Sunday, May 25, 2014, 8:05 pm Eastern, TV: NBC Sports
Opening Line: New York -175 / Montreal +155
Current Line: New York -175 / Montreal +155
Opening Total: under 5 -110 / over 5 -110
Current Total: under 5 -130 / over 5 +110

Montreal looks to tie the Eastern Conference Finals at 2-2 in game four Sunday night.

Montreal looks to tie the Eastern Conference Finals at 2-2 in game four Sunday night.

The road team has won every game so far in the Eastern Conference Finals between the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers. New York won game one in Montreal 7-2 and then took a 2-0 series lead with a 3-1 win in game two. Thursday night, Montreal won game three 3-2 in overtime in New York to get back into the series. Game four is Sunday night at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers will look to take a commanding 3-1 series lead while the Canadiens look to make it a best of three series with game five in Montreal Tuesday night.

About five minutes into game three, there was a sequence that will have lasting effects on both teams. Montreal’s Brandon Prust blindsided New York’s Derek Stepan with a hit to the chest. Stepan was on the ice for several second before skating off. Stepan returned to the game later in the period but would later be diagnosed with a broken jaw and is out indefinitely. Prust was suspended for two games by the NHL for the hit. About a minute after the Prust hit on Stepan, Daniel Carcillo of the Rangers hit Prust from behind to retaliate. Carcillo was called for charging. Prust then got into a fight with Derek Dorsett. Carcillo was restrained by one of the linesmen as he tried to get to Prust. Carcillo threw a couple of elbows to the referee. Carcillo was given a 10 minute game misconduct penalty and was later suspended 10 games by the NHL for abusing an official.

New York scored with less than 5 minutes left in the first period on a goal from Carl Hagelin assisted by Martin St. Louis. Montreal tied it up three minutes into the second on a goal from Andrei Markov, assisted by Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher. Daniel Briere gave Montreal a 2-1 lead with just over 3 minutes to go in the third period, assisted by Thomas Vanek and Rene Bourque. New York tied it up with 29 seconds left on a goal from Chris Kreider assisted by Dan Girardi and Stepan. In overtime, Alex Galchenyuk scored the game winner for Montreal a minute into the extra period. Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta recorded assists on the goal.

Dustin Tokarski was making his second career playoff start in place of the injured Carey Price. The 24 year old Tokarski also started game two. He faced 37 shots in game three and stopped 35 of them. New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist made 22 saves in 25 shots faced. Both teams were 0 for 2 on the power play. Each team  won 36 faceoffs.

New York is coached by Alain Vigneault. The Rangers are 55-38-3-3 this season and the total was 30-41-11 during the regular season. Montreal is coached by Michel Therrien.  The Canadiens are 55-33-5-3 this season and the total was 28-42-12 during the regular season.

Montreal is outscoring teams 3.00-2.71 in the playoffs. The Canadiens are fourth in goals scored and eighth in goals allowed. Montreal is averaging 30.2 shots per game and giving up 31 per game. The Canadiens are 10/47 on the power play (21.3%). Montreal is 75.7% 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 48.1% 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. Price was 8-4 in the playoffs. 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. Tokarski has a goal against average of 2.57 with a .925 save percentage. He has allowed 5 goals in 67 shots faced.

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 10 points with 6 assists. LW Thomas Vanek has 9 points with 5 goals. LW Max Pacioretty has 9 points with 4 goals. Center Tomas Plekanec has 7 points with 5 assists. Left wing Rene Bourque has 7 points with 5 goals. Center Daniel Briere has 7 points with 4 assists. Markov and Gionta each have 6 points with 5 assists.

In the playoffs, New York is outscoring teams 2.71-2.12. The Rangers are 8th of the 16 playoff teams in scoring but are first in goals against. The Rangers are outshooting teams 29.4-28.5 in the playoffs. New York is 10 for 67 on the power play during the playoffs (14.9%). New York has allowed two short handed goals.  The Rangers are at 86% on the penalty kill and has allowed 7 power play goals. New York is 46.9% on face-offs.

Lundqvist has a 1.99 goals against average in the playoffs with a save percentage of .931. He has allowed 33 goals and faced 477 shots. During the last three games against the  Pittsburgh Penguins, Lundqvist has a 10-7 record in the playoffs.

Right wing Martin St. Louis has 17 points with 5 goals and 7 assists. Right wing Mats Zuccarello has 11 points with 7 assists. Center Derek Stepan has 11 points with 8 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 has 8 points with 5 goals. The loss of Stepan will be somewhat offset by the return of center Derick Brassard who missed the last two games with an upper body injury. Brassard has 7 points with 4 goals in the playoffs.

Montreal is 5-0 against teams with losing home records, 11-4 in road games, 13-5 after allowing 2 goals or less in the previous game, 10-4 on two days rest, 17-7 against Eastern Conference teams, 20-9 overall, 11-5 after a win, and 1-4 in conference final games. The road team is 5-1 in this series recently. The Canadiens are 13-6 recently against the Rangers.

New York is 5-1 overall, against teams with winning records and against Western Conference teams, 7-2 after scoring 2 goals or less in the previous game, 19-7 after the opponent allows 2 goals or less in the previous game, 28-11 in Sunday games, and 1-4 against teams with winning road records. The under is 8-1-3 in this series recently, including 2-0-2 in New York.

Tokarski might be only 24, but he has won the 2008 Memorial Cup as the goalie for the Spokane Chiefs in junior hockey, led Canada to the 2009 World Junior Championship, and won the AHL’s Calder Cup in 2012 as the goalie for the Norfolk Admirals. The kid is very talented and a proven winner. He hasn’t wilted yet from the bright lights of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. His counterpart Lundqvist on the other side has also been playing extremely well. This should be another low scoring game, and I think Montreal ties the series.

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


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