The New York Rangers have reached another dead end.
A night after being eliminated from postseason contention, the Rangers conclude another disappointing regular season with a game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre.
The Rangers were officially eliminated from the playoff race on Friday by a 2-1 home loss to the rival New Jersey Devils. New York has now failed to reach the postseason in a team-record six straight seasons.
“This one is really disappointing for us,” said Rangers captain Mark Messier, who hasn’t decided whether he’ll return for his 25th NHL season next season. “The Ranger fans are behind the team all the time. They expect a lot out of us.”
Despite the highest payroll in the NHL, the Rangers didn’t fulfill the playoff guarantee made by general manager Glen Sather, who issued the assurance after grabbing the coaching reins from Bryan Trottier 54 games into the season.
“It was disappointing,” said Sather, who wouldn’t commit to returning as coach next season.
Montreal has won just twice over its last nine (2-6-0-1), including Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to the Southeast Division-champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
”(This) was a real intense game and a great goaltending duel,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. “The effort that the guys gave was positive, and you have to be happy with it.”
STANDINGS: Rangers - 78 points, 4th place, 28 PB, Atlantic Division. Canadiens - 75 points, 4th place, 36 PB, Northeast Division.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through April 3): Rangers - Power play: 16.0 percent (53 for 332), 16th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.2 percent (310 for 382), 29th. Canadiens - Power play: 14.1 percent (44 for 313), 25th. Penalty killing: 81.8 percent (256 for 313), 24th.
SEASON SERIES: Canadiens, 3-0.
LAST MEETING: Jan. 9; Canadiens, 3-2. At Montreal, Marcel Hossa scored with 13:37 left in the third period to help Montreal end a seven-game winless streak. Karl Dykhuis and Andrei Markov also scored for the Canadiens, and Theodore made 28 saves. Matthew Barnaby and Jamie Lundmark scored for the Rangers.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Rangers - 15-17-6-2 on the road; Canadiens - 15-16-5-4 at home.