Budaj, Canadiens spoil Rangers' home opener

NEW YORK -- After spending the first four weeks of the season on the road, the New York Rangers wanted to give their hometown crowd something to cheer about. But it was the visiting Montreal Canadiens who came away with the two points Monday night at Madison Square Garden.

Peter Budaj made 27 stops for the shutout and Tomas Plekanec scored the winning goal to lead the Canadiens to a 2-0 victory. Alex Galchenyuk also scored for the Canadiens.

Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves for the Rangers, who visit the New York Islanders on Tuesday.

The Rangers certainly carried the play early on, outshooting Montreal 5-1 in the opening eight minutes, with the Canadiens blocking an additional five shot attempts in that span.

Chris Kreider had the first quality scoring chance less than two minutes into the game, when he pounced on a rebound off a John Moore point shot. But Budaj sprawled across the crease to get just enough of the puck to send it caroming off the post. As for the Canadiens, the game was over six minutes old before they registered their first shot on Lundqvist.

Plekanec got an excellent opportunity in front of the Rangers’ net and with Taylor Pyatt off for tripping. But Lundqvist stood tall and made the stop with 2:28 remaining in the period. Both teams enjoyed two five-on-four advantages in the first, but neither power play mustered too many quality shots in a tightly-contested period. Through 20 minutes, Montreal and New York actually combined for almost as many blocked shots (13) as shots on net (14).

The second period was also a defensive affair, with both teams combining for five shots in the opening 6:30. Galchenyuk had a quality scoring chance at the start of the period, as he found himself in front of a sprawling Lundqvist less than seven minutes into the second. But the 19-year-old couldn't quite gain enough control of the puck to get off a quality shot.

Throughout the period, both teams attempted to break out in the hopes of creating quality scoring chances. But to their credit, the Canadiens and Rangers did a very good job of clogging up passing lanes in transition.

New York's best chance of the second came with less than seven minutes remaining, when Kreider beat Francis Bouillon to a loose puck behind the Montreal net. He quickly fed Derek Stepan in front, but Budaj kept the game tied with a quick kick save. Halfway through the game, it was apparent that someone would have to pounce on an opportunity in order to break the 0-0 deadlock.

Montreal finally opened the scoring with 3:26 remaining in the second and Brian Boyle serving a roughing penalty. Rookie Michael Bournival's soft pass sent Plekanec storming towards the Rangers’ net down the left wing. The Canadiens center then went to his backhand to beat a sprawling Lundqvist for his team-leading sixth goal of the season. Bournival's assist gave the rookie at least one point in five of his past six games.

A tight game grew noticeably physical as it went along, particularly when Montreal captain Brian Gionta and Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh were each sent off for roughing in the final minute of the second.

In the third period, the Rangers appeared to have a prime opportunity when Brassard was left storming down the wing all alone following a collision at the Canadiens' blue line. But the collision was precipitated by Kreider catching a piece of Raphael Diaz's skate on the play, and Kreider was issued an interference penalty.

The Rangers found some space once more midway through the third when J.T. Miller found the puck just in front of Budaj. But once again, the Canadiens’ goaltender came through when counted on to make a timely stop. He did the same with four minutes remaining in regulation, stopping Mats Zuccarello on the doorstep off a Rangers rush. Moments later, Galchenyuk earned an important insurance marker when he tucked a cross-crease feed from Lars Eller into an open net to Lundqvist's right.

With the win, Montreal has now won four straight against the Rangers. The Canadiens have not lost to New York since March 30, 2012.

Scoring Summary
1st Period
2nd Period
16:34MTL PPG - Tomas Plekanec (6) ASST: Michael Bournival (4), Brian Gionta (4) 1 - 0 MTL
3rd Period
17:09MTL Alex Galchenyuk (2) ASST: Lars Eller (4), Brendan Gallagher (3) 2 - 0 MTL
Three Stars of the Game
Peter Budaj
Peter Budaj
SA: 27TOI: 59:09
GA: 0EV: 20-20
PIM: 0PP: 4-4
SV%: 1.000SH: 3-3
Tomas Plekanec
Tomas Plekanec
G: 1Shots: 3
A: 0Hits: 0
PTS: 1PIM: 0
+/-: 0TOI: 19:38
Alex Galchenyuk
Alex Galchenyuk
G: 1Shots: 2
A: 0Hits: 0
PTS: 1PIM: 0
+/-: 1TOI: 14:15
Penalty Summary
1st Period
02:36NYR John Moore  Roughing against  Mike Blunden
12:31MTL Brian Gionta  Tripping against  J.T. Miller
15:42NYR Taylor Pyatt  Tripping against  P.K. Subban
18:11MTL Brian Gionta  Tripping against  Derek Stepan
2nd Period
03:41MTL Louis Leblanc  Hooking against  Benoit Pouliot
06:53NYR Benoit Pouliot  Illegal Check To Head against  Lars Eller
15:56NYR Brian Boyle  Roughing against  Brendan Gallagher
19:12MTL Brian Gionta  Roughing against  Ryan McDonagh
19:12NYR Ryan McDonagh  Roughing against  Brian Gionta
3rd Period
02:02NYR Jesper Fast  Hooking against  Louis Leblanc
05:16MTL Douglas Murray  Interference against  Chris Kreider
05:37NYR Chris Kreider  Interference against  Raphael Diaz
12:41MTL Andrei Markov  Slashing against  Dominic Moore
shots by period
Team Stats
Power Plays1/60/5
Faceoff Wins3227
Blocked Shots2811
Penalty Minutes1214
6D. MurrayD0000214:21
11B. GallagherR0112016:26
14T. PlekanecC1003019:38
17R. BourqueR0000014:57
21B. GiontaR0102618:19
26J. GorgesD0000019:38
27A. GalchenyukC1012014:15
45M. BlundenR000005:58
49M. BournivalL0102015:09
51D. DesharnaisC0002012:57
53R. WhiteC0002011:10
55F. BouillonD0001018:11
61R. DiazD0001020:40
71L. LeblancC0001210:16
76P. SubbanD0013021:37
79A. MarkovD0013225:47
81L. EllerC0113019:42
82P. HollandR000009:53
30P. Budaj27271.00059:09
4M. Del ZottoD0003018:38
5D. GirardiD00-12020:14
6A. StralmanD0002017:27
10J. MillerC00-13014:28
12J. FastR000228:09
14T. PyattL0000210:06
15D. DorsettR0000011:01
16D. BrassardC00-12014:14
17J. MooreD00-13218:00
18M. StaalD0000016:17
19B. RichardsC0001020:43
20C. KreiderL00-11217:43
21D. StepanC0001021:57
22B. BoyleC0004214:57
27R. McDonaghD0001224:56
28D. MooreC0000012:26
36M. ZuccarelloR0002013:49
67B. PouliotL0000214:32
30H. Lundqvist2527.92657:45