Canadiens' shutout ruins Rangers' home opener

Everett Merrill, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- All the elements for the New York Rangers to enjoy a successful home opener were in place Monday night.
Coach Alain Vigneault's team was returning from a nine-game road trip to a newly renovated Madison Square Garden, in front of a sold-out crowd and with star goalie Henrik Lundqvist back in net after he missed two games with an undisclosed injury.
However, Montreal Canadien goalie Peter Budaj ruined the Rangers' homecoming, stopping 27 shots in the Canadiens' 2-0 win. The shutout was the 11th in Budaj's career.
Montreal (7-5-0) scored in the second and third periods.
"It's such a great atmosphere and a historic building to play in," Budaj said. "Obviously we spoiled the party, but I'm glad we did."
In two starts as Carey Price's backup, Budaj has allowed just one goal in 120 minutes this season. He benefitted from a Montreal defense that blocked 20 shots, six by defenseman Andrei Markov and five from fellow blue-liner Josh Gorges.
"I was able to see the puck pretty well," Budaj said. "We knew coming into this game that the Rangers had a strong power play with big bodies in front. I have to say that our guys out-battled them a little bit."
On the rare occasion Budaj allowed a rebound, a Montreal defenseman was there to clean it up.
"Every time I made a save, they got the sticks up," he said. "They did a good job clearing the puck."
Budaj's best stop came six minutes into the third period, when the teams were skating 4-on-4 after interference calls 21 seconds apart. Rangers center J.T. Miller had a partial breakaway in the Montreal zone and fired a shot that Budaj stopped with his left arm.
Miller was denied again by Budaj midway through the third with a hard shot from the right of the crease.
Montreal grabbed the 1-0 advantage when center Tomas Plekanec scored on the power play late in the second period. With Rangers center Brian Boyle serving a roughing penalty, Plekanec poked in a backhander while skating in front of Lundqvist's crease at 16:34.
"Plakanec was very patient," Lundqvist said. "I kind of took the angle away, and that's why I was kind of late coming across, but he made a good move."
The nifty goal was Plekanec's team-leading sixth of the season and tied him with Mike McPhee for 34th on Montreal's all-time list with 162 goals. Brian Gionta and Michael Bournival had the assists.
Canadiens center Alex Galchenyuk added an insurance goal at 17:09 of the third period, sending a wrist shot past Lundqvist. The goal was reviewed, as it looked as though Galchenyuk may have kicked the puck in.
"If that's not a kick, I don't know what a kick is," a frustrated Lundqvist said. "Seriously, there needs to be some sort of consistency in the calls. I think that's a kick. That's my opinion."
Lundqvist made 25 saves but received little help from an offensive unit that was 0-for-5 on the power play.
The Rangers limped home with the NHL's most anemic offense. They scored just 15 goals while going 3-6 on the road as Madison Square Garden was getting renovated.
"I think we have, in the last few games, done a good job of getting some offensive zone time and moving the puck around," Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said. "I thought we did a decent job of getting through without turning it over too much tonight.
"We got it in behind them, but we weren't able to generate enough to score goals. You can't win a game without scoring any goals."
New York's nine-game odyssey to start the season was broken into two trips -- five games against teams from the Western Conference, followed by four against Eastern Conference foes. The Western part was particularly disappointing for Vigneault's team: New York went 1-4 and yielded 25 goals.
The Montreal defense thwarted several good New York goal-scoring opportunities in the scoreless first period, blocking 10 shots.
The Rangers' best chance of the second period came with 7:00 left. Derek Stepan received a pass from Chris Kreider behind the Montreal net and let go a wrist shot on the door step that Budaj flicked away with his glove.
NOTES: New York LW Rick Nash missed his seventh game with a head injury he sustained Oct. 8 at San Jose. ... Rangers RW Ryan Callahan is out until at least Nov. 6 with a broken left thumb. ... New York RW Derek Dorsett ranks second in the NHL in penalty minutes with 47. He trails Tampa Bay D Radko Gudas (53). ... Montreal's P.K Subban leads all NHL defenseman with 11 points (two goals, nine assists). Subban had no points against the Rangers. ... Price earned his 150th career win Thursday.

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