As the clock ticked under a minute remaining, the Rangers had the chance of coming back to Madison Square Garden up 2-0 in the series. Unfortunately, 17 seconds doomed the Rangers in Game 2, and they never found a way to recover. Henrik Lundqvist gave the Rangers every single opportunity to take this game home, but in the end, those 17 seconds came back to haunt them in overtime.
With all of the pressure shifted to Montreal after Game 1, it was expected that the Canadiens would come out flying to start this game. That early pressure by Montreal led to the Rangers being hemmed in their own, and eventually resulted in an early goal coming from Jeff Petry. Just prior to the goal, Henrik Lundqvist had his stick snapped in half following a play in front of the net, and was forced to play almost a minute without it.
The Rangers probably could have iced to puck to get a stoppage so Lundqvist could get a new stick, but they elected to keep the play going. That decision wound up hurting the Rangers a short time later, as Jeff Petry flipped the puck past Lundqvist on the blocker side and gave the Canadiens the early 1-0 lead.
Despite giving up the early goal, the Rangers were able to weather the early surge by Montreal and finally settled into their game. A little under 10 minutes later, the Rangers evened the game with a breakaway goal coming Michael Grabner. Instead of shooting like he normally does, Grabner brought out the bag on tricks on this breakaway and completely fooled Carey Price with the move.
Just as the Rangers appeared to be taking back some of the momentum, Montreal climbed right back into the driver seat at the 15:42 mark. Paul Byron was able to capitalize on a horrific read by Marc Staal and Nick Holden, and beat Lundqvist over the shoulder to make it a 2-1 game. For whatever reason, both Staal and Holden drifted behind the net, which left Byron uncontested in the high slot. Derek Stepan was unable to re-position himself in time, and Byron made the Rangers pay for their mistake.
Heading into the second period, the Rangers appeared to settle in quite a bit and took control for a majority of the period. As a result, they were able to score a pair of goals coming from Rick Nash, and Mats Zuccarello and jumped out to a 3-2 lead. That gave the Rangers a one goal lead heading into the third period, and a huge opportunity to close out this game.
Unfortunately, the Rangers came out for the third period in prevent defense mode, which allowed Montreal to have their way in the offensive zone. The Rangers were able to keep the Canadiens at bay for a good portion of the third period, but a combination of personal decisions and a lucky bounce doomed them.
Marc Staal and Nick Holden were abysmal for most of the night in their own end, but for god knows what reason, Alain Vigneault had the pair out in crunch time to kill off the clock. Instead of putting arguably his best pairing in Brady Skjei and Brendan Smith on the ice, he opted for Holden and Staal, and the Canadiens tied the game with 17 seconds remaining.
The Rangers were completely stunned by the goal, and never seemed to fully recover heading into the overtime period. During the overtime period, the Canadiens continued to attack in the offensive zone, and finally caught a bounce with under two minutes remaining in the first overtime period. Alex Radulov was able to slam home a rebound generated by Max Pacioretty and the Canadiens took Game 2 to even the series up at one.
While this game was certainly a let down in terms of the result, the Rangers did take back home ice by splitting on the road. Hopefully the Rangers can solve their issues they have been having on home ice as of late, and make Madison Square Garden a difficult place to play during Game 3. We’ll see how it all plays out on Sunday night.