Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

NHL Notebook: Canadiens Face Tough Task in NHL Eastern Finals

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

NHL Notebook: Canadiens Face Tough Task in NHL Eastern Finals

Article excerpt

Canadiens try to stay alive tonight vs. Rangers

When other parts of their game are sputtering, the New York Rangers have two key assets to fall back on penalty killing and goaltending. It's a combination that has put them within one victory of their first Stanley Cup Finals in 20 years. And it has frustrated the Montreal Canadiens, who must win Game 5 tonight at home to avoid elimination in the Eastern Conference finals.

Against the Rangers, the Canadiens are one for 17 with the man advantage. Montreal's power-play goal came Sunday in a 3-2 overtime loss in New York. That P.K. Subban blast from the point, however, was tempered by a short-handed goal by New York's Carl Hagelin that opened the scoring.

The Canadiens' power play went one for eight in a game in which the Rangers spent 14 minutes, or almost 22 percent of the game, a man short.

"Give credit to our killers and our goaltender," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "They did a real good job."

That is nothing new. Before Subban's goal, the Rangers had killed off 27 straight penalties. New York is 37 for 39 (95 percent) at killing penalties in its past 12 games.

"We had the opportunity on the power play but we didn't take advantage of it," Montreal coach Michel Therrien said. "Yes, we scored a goal. It was a tying goal, but we gave up one, and that was the story of the game."

The Rangers' go-to forward pairing on the power play is Hagelin and Brian Boyle. Hagelin uses his speed while Boyle's credentials read "big body, blocks shots, good on faceoffs," according to Vigneault.

The New York penalty-killing unit is smart and sleek. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist has worked hard on his puck handling, and his defenders are positioned well.

"I think our guys do a good job whether it be on the forecheck coming back in the right positions and trying to create those battles where you've a chance to make a couple plays and get it out," Vigneault said. …

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