Caufield makes the difference against Rangers

NEW YORK — Samuel Montembeault made 38 saves in his second start in two days as the Montreal Canadiens defeated the New York Rangers 2-1 on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

Cole Caufield scored a goal and an assist, while Kirby Dash hit the target on the power play for the Canadiens (18-23-3), who have won three of their last five games after going on a seven-game losing streak (0-6-1).

“From start to finish, we were very committed physically and mentally,” explained Canadiens coach Martin St-Louis. “Coming into this amphitheater, where they’ve gone 13-2-2 in their last 17 games, we knew we’d be expected. The game started at 5 p.m., so shortly after our clash yesterday. With the injuries, in addition, from the initial face-off, we had the impression of having a big slope to climb. Still, we showed up and left all those excuses behind.

“It’s a victory of character. It was far from perfect, but our team has rarely been so committed this season. »

Montembeault made eight saves in the final five minutes of the third period. He turned aside 36 shots in a 2-1 loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday.

He was the starting goalie in all four of Montreal’s games last week and allowed nine goals on 159 shots (.943 save percentage).

« The opportunity presented itself to him tonight and he took it, » added St-Louis. He was one of our key players. We played well in front of him, but he had to correct some of our mistakes because they threw a lot of shots. I don’t know how many scoring chances each team had throughout the game, but after two periods it was pretty even and both teams had a one-man advantage. They scored their goal six against five. So it was a good battle and in the third period, we managed to add a goal, then we managed to neutralize them afterwards. »

Artemi Panarin counted and Igor Shesterkin made 29 saves for the Rangers (24-13-7), who had collected at least one point in their last seven meetings.

“We were a little messier than we would have liked, but their goalkeeper made good saves,” admitted the Rangers defender Jacob Trouba. “It was a fairly balanced match. We played pretty well, but we were a little too messy. »

Panarin is one of three Rangers players, the other two being Vitaly Kravtsov and Ryan Lindgren, who played on Sunday despite missing Saturday’s practice due to intestinal issues. This virus has been circulating in the formation for some time according to coach Gerard Gallant.

« The energy level wasn’t great, but I don’t know if that’s because of that, » Gallant said. No need to yell at them with everything that’s going on. We would have hoped for a little more enthusiasm. It was a fairly balanced match, they took advantage of one more chance than us. It’s not terrible, but we expected better from our group. »

Dach gave Montreal a 1-0 power play lead at 4:54 of the second period following a three-on-two build. While his team was one player short, Jacob Trouba fired a shot on a two-on-one attack, but missed the target. The Canadians banded together to create a surplus.

Caufield sent the puck to Christian Dvorak, who then handed it over to Dach. The latter beat Shesterkin to the mitt side with a shot from the right circle. With that goal, Dach set a new NHL personal best with 27 points in a season.

Video: Caufield makes the difference against Rangers

“In our two matches [contre les Islanders et les Rangers], we faced good goalkeepers, so we knew it wouldn’t be an attacking festival. We wanted to score one or two goals and play well defensively with a good structure, said Dach. That’s what happened and it’s good to be rewarded. »

Panarin tied the game 1-1 at 16:03 as New York went 6-5 after the referee signaled a delayed penalty to the Canadians.

The Rangers failed to take advantage of a power play that started at 13:08, but they kept the drive in opposing territory. As soon as the referee signed the delayed penalty, Shesterkin was replaced by an extra striker and Panarin scored with a wrist shot from the right circle.

Caufield gave the Canadiens a 2-1 lead at 8:56 of the third period. Miller lost the puck between his skates behind the Rangers goal line, so Nick Suzuki picked it up and passed it on to Caufield between the two circles.

It was Caufield’s 26th goal this season and seventh in his last eight games.

« I’m always ready in those situations, » Caufield said. We have to take advantage of their mistakes and that’s what we did. »

Notes: The Canadians claim a road win for the first time since December 19, ending a seven-game losing streak (0-6-1). … K’Andre Miller got an assist on Panarin’s goal to extend his one-point streak to six games (three goals, five assists). The defenseman has 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in his last 18 games. …the striker Jake Leschyshyn played his first game for the Rangers, who claimed him off waivers from the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday. Leschyshyn had two shots on goal and he gave up two hits 6:47 into the game. … Rangers have played a second straight game without the forward Chris Kreider, who is indisposed by an upper body injury. His condition is being assessed on a daily basis, but he has resumed skating alone.

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