The New York Rangers have always had issues winning at the Bell Centre, but thankfully, tonight they were able to demolish the Montreal Canadiens by a final score of 5-2. While the Rangers only had 23 total shots on goal, they completely dominated the offensive zone and made the most of their scoring opportunities. Antti Raanta, who was given the start tonight, had yet another strong outing and picked up his sixth win in his last seven appearances.
The Rangers had an extremely quick start to the game tonight, and as a result, they found the game's first goal just 3:04 into the first period. J.T. Miller, who registered his 21st goal of the season, was credited with the goal after absolutely dancing around Andrei Markov. Miller made a quick move to the outside at first, but quickly cut back inside with a ridiculous toe drag. Markov was unable to keep up with Miller after the move, and he slipped the puck between Mike Condon's legs to make it a 1-0 game.
A little over nine minutes later, the Canadiens caught a fortunate bounce and evened up the game at one. After a failed cross-ice pass by Montreal, the puck got caught up in Ryan McDonagh's skates and deflected right out to Lars Eller. Eller was able to quickly rifle a shot over the shoulder of Antti Raanta, and suddenly the Canadiens were right back in the game.
Despite giving up a goal nearing the end of the period, the Rangers responded massively during the second period and scored three consecutive goals to make it 4-1. Derick Brassard got things started just 1:32 into the middle frame, after Chris Kreider flubbed a shot wide on a 2-on-1 rush. Kreider's shot deflected off of the end boards behind the net, and Brassard was able to tap home the rebound after following up the play. A few moments later, Chris Kreider finally got his redemption and netted his first goal of the night on the power play.
Kreider eventually found his second goal of the evening just two minutes later, and caught the Canadiens sleeping after a clearing attempt. Kreider was able to burn Alexei Emelin along the boards, broke in on Mike Condon, and stuffed the puck home with a power move to the far post. Given how well the Rangers played up until that point, they looked to close out the second period with a strong finished.
Unfortunately, the Canadiens weren't going to give up that easy and they pulled within a pair of goals at the 15:38 mark of the second period. David Desharnais was able to create a chance by powering past Marc Staal, and had the inside track driving to the net. Just before reaching the crease, Desharnais tapped a pass over to Philip Danault who slammed it home.
With 41 seconds remaining in the period, the Rangers were handed yet another power play opportunity and they made it count once again. This time around it was Derek Stepan, who picked up a loose puck in the high slot, and shoveled it over Condon to make it a 5-2 game. That goal wound up closing out the scoring for both teams, and the third period was essentially penalty killing practice for the Rangers.
The Canadiens had four separate power play opportunities throughout the third period, but the Rangers were able to kill them all off rather convincingly. Antti Raanta was able to hold down the fort during the closing minutes, and helped the Rangers earn their third straight victory. As dominating as the Rangers were tonight, they will have a tough test tomorrow night as they meet up with the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden.