New York Rangers (4-3-0) at Montreal Canadiens (6-1-0), 7 p.m. (ET)
(SportsNetwork.com) - A rematch of last spring's Eastern Conference finals is on tap Saturday, as the Montreal Canadiens welcome the New York Rangers to the Bell Centre.
The Rangers ousted Montreal in six games for last season's conference title before losing to the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals. It marked New York's first trip to the Cup Finals since winning it all in 1994, while the Habs were denied a shot at playing on hockey's stage for the first time since their last championship in '93.
Both the Blueshirts and Canadiens are teams built on speed, but New York boasts size as well as quickness. Montreal and New York also have two of game's best goaltenders in Carey Price and Henrik Lundqvist.
Price will face the Rangers for the first time since Game 1 of the conference finals. Montreal's No. 1 goaltender was knocked out of the playoffs in that contest after suffering a knee injury when New York forward Chris Kreider crashed into him at the end of a breakaway. Although Kreider has insisted time and again the collision was unintentional, the winger will almost certainly receive an icy reception from Canadiens fans tonight.
Not including that fateful playoff game, Price is 8-5-1 with a 2.06 goals against average in his career against the Rangers. Lundqvist, who expects to start for New York, is 13-11-2 with a 2.84 GAA in 27 regular-season appearances versus Montreal.
The Canadiens enter the showdown with a 6-1-0 record and will shoot for a fourth consecutive victory on Saturday. Montreal is 3-0 so far on a four-game homestand and last played on Tuesday when it notched a 2-1 overtime win against Detroit.
David Desharnais scored 56 seconds into the extra session to lift the Habs to victory over the Red Wings. After P.K. Subban fired a shot from above the left circle, Max Pacioretty took the rebound and had his wrister denied by Jimmy Howard. Desharnais gathered the loose puck at the left side of the net and swatted a backhander over a falling Howard for the game-winner.
Alex Galchenyuk scored the game-tying goal with 3:09 to play in the third period and Price made 27 saves for the win.
"We have great character on this team," Galchenyuk said. "In the third, we started going to the net and it paid off for us."
Montreal has won nine of its last 10 home games against the Rangers in the regular season and also claimed five of the past six encounters prior to last spring's playoff meeting.
The Rangers also enter Saturday with a shot at winning their fourth consecutive game. New York also posted an OT win in its last game, posting a 4-3 comeback win Tuesday night in New Jersey.
New York trailed the Devils 3-1 early in the third period before rallying for the win. Kevin Klein's goal with 2:18 remaining in OT capped the furious comeback at Prudential Center.
The Rangers forcing overtime on goals by Chris Mueller and Rick Nash and Lundqvist also helped bring on the extra session with a 28-save effort that included several key stops late in regulation.
"I am just really happy the way we came back," Lundqvist said. "When they scored that third one, and the way their power play was playing, it was a tough, but we responded in a big way. It was a big two points for us."
Kreider set up Klein's game-winner and scored earlier for New York, while Mueller also chipped in an assist in the Rangers' triumph.
New York's next game is against Minnesota on Monday when the Blueshirts kick off a four-game homestand. Montreal will begin a three-game road trip the same night in Edmonton.
Also, the Canadiens will join the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs in coordinated pregame ceremonies prior to the start of their respective home games tonight. The teams will be honoring Canadian soldiers who were killed earlier this week.
On Wednesday, a gunman shot and killed a Canadian solider standing guard at the National War Memorial, then entered Parliament before being shot to death.
On Monday, a solider was killed as a man drove into him with a car at a building near Montreal.