Two teams in need of strong goaltending and defensive performances face off Sunday as the Montreal Canadiens conclude their season-opening three-game road trip against the New York Rangers. Both clubs were on the wrong end of lopsided affairs on Saturday, leaving New York still in search of its first victory of the campaign.
The Rangers put on the better showing despite surrendering eight goals in their loss at Toronto, as they rallied from a 5-1 deficit to forge a tie before yielding three tallies in the third period. New York has given up 12 goals in losing its first two games of 2017-18, with Henrik Lundqvist being victimized for eight - including five in the opening period on Saturday. Like Lundqvist, Carey Price lasted only 20 minutes as he surrendered four goals - three to Alex Ovechkin, who finished with four - on 14 shots in Montreal’s 6-1 setback at Washington. The Canadiens also could afford to rev it up offensively, as they’ve scored a total of three goals while splitting their first two contests this season.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NHL Network, Sportsnet One, RDS (Montreal), MSG Plus (New York)
ABOUT THE CANADIENS (1-1-0): Montreal, which plays six of its first eight games of the campaign on the road, outshot Washington 32-9 over the final two periods on Saturday but was outscored 2-1. Brendan Gallagher netted the team’s lone goal, giving him a team-leading two points on the season. The Canadiens have scored a short-handed goal in each of their first two contests, with Phillip Danault tallying while down a skater in the season-opening victory at Buffalo.
ABOUT THE RANGERS (0-2-0): Linemates Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich have combined for three goals and three assists over the first two games of the season. Zibanejad has scored all three of the goals, each of which has been recorded on the power play. Mats Zuccarello also is off to a strong start to 2017-18, registering a four-point performance in Toronto to give him a goal and four assists overall.
1. Rangers D Kevin Shattenkirk notched a goal and an assist Saturday, with the tally being his 300th career point.
2. New York is in the midst of a stretch during which it plays nine of its first 11 games of the season at home.
3. This is the first of two meetings between the teams this month, with Montreal serving as host on Oct. 28.
PREDICTION: Rangers 4, Canadiens 3