Chris Kreider scores twice, Rangers down Canadiens 5-2
MONTREAL – Chris Kreider and Derick Brassard were all over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.
Kreider and Brassard each had three points as the visiting New York Rangers downed the Canadiens 5-2 – eliminating Montreal from playoff contention in the process.
Kreider scored twice and added an assist for the Rangers while Brassard had one goal and two assists, all in the second period.
“We’re trying to find chemistry between lines right now,” said Brassard, who extended his point streak to four games. “Chris is a big part of our team. To see him score two goals like that and be involved in the game, that’s something our team is pretty excited about.
“Hopefully it’s going to give him some confidence. I really like our line.”
With the score tied 1-1 going into the second period, Brassard capitalized on a big bounce off the end boards after a missed shot by Kreider at 1:32.
Kreider then made it 3-1 on the power play after a clever no-look feed by Brassard at 8:19. The 24-year-old added his second of the game two minutes later on a great individual effort for his first three-point game of the season.
New York scored four goals on its first 15 shots on Habs goalie Mike Condon, who was pulled after two periods.
“We controlled the puck in their end,” said Brassard of the second frame. “We just capitalized on our chances. We had the puck pretty much the whole time.”
J.T. Miller and Derek Stepan also scored for New York (43-24-8), which is in second place in the Eastern Conference.
In his first career game at the Bell Centre, Rangers backup goaltender Antti Raanta made 24 saves for his 10th win of the season.
Lars Eller and Phillip Danault had goals for Montreal (34-36-6). Ben Scrivens made four saves in the third period in relief of Condon.
“We’re in games, it’s just these NHL teams are too good to not take advantage of turnovers,” said Habs captain Max Pacioretty. “A guy like Kreider, he’s going to win every foot race that you give him.
“Part of that is also knowing the league and who you’re out against. We just have to be a bit smarter.”
The Rangers beat Montreal for the first time since Nov. 23, 2014.
New York scored early and often, taking advantage of a young Canadiens lineup ravaged by injuries.
Miller made Andrei Markov look silly on the game’s first goal at 3:04 of the opening frame. The Rangers forward dangled past Markov with a nifty toe drag, then went five-hole with the backhand on Condon for his 21st goal of the year.
Montreal answered back midway through the first, with Eller firing a loose puck past Raanta at 12:26 to make it 1-1 – the Dane’s first point in eight games.
After Brassard and Kreider’s goals, Danault got one back for the Canadiens at 15:38 of the second before Stepan added another for the Rangers in the final minute of the period to make it 5-2.
New York took three consecutive tripping penalties to start the third but Montreal failed to capitalize on any of them.
The Canadiens finished 0 for 6 with the man advantage.
“For pretty much all those power plays we had a lot of good looks,” said Pacioretty. “You have to want to be the guy who wants to put it in. We moved the puck nicely for most of them, we just have to put the puck in the net.”
Defenceman P.K. Subban (neck) was not in the Canadiens lineup for the eighth straight game. Subban was injured on Mar. 10 against Buffalo when he collided with teammate Alexei Emelin.
Notes: Michel Therrien coached his 750th career NHL game. â€¦ Lucas Lessio (undisclosed injury) and Jacob De La Rose (healthy scratch) did not play. â€¦ Sven Andrighetto was back in the lineup after missing the last three games with an upper-body injury. â€¦ The Canadiens signed free agent defenceman Tom Parisi to a two-year, two-way contract earlier on Saturday.