Canadiens frustrated with lack of finish in 2-0 shutout loss to Rangers

Canadiens frustrated with lack of finish

MONTREAL — The Montreal Canadiens lamented their lack of finish after their Game 1 loss at home against the New York Rangers.

Montreal was shut out 2-0 on Wednesday as it dropped the opener of its best-of-seven first-round playoff series against New York.

“There were some chances to score goals,” said captain Max Pacioretty, who had five shots on target. “There were a couple of chances where we got pucks to the net and the rebounds were sitting there, and we have to dig a little deeper to come up with those second chances.”

The Canadiens were physical and dominant for long stretches, pinning the Rangers deep in their own zone with a relentless forecheck, especially in the first period. Montreal also had good zone penetration and a number of legitimate scoring chances in high-danger areas.

But the home side just couldn’t find the back of the net.

“We had some looks but in the end it was more about finish,” said head coach Claude Julien. “We had some good looks, there were some loose pucks and it’s just about winning those battles for loose pucks and making sure you bounce on them and finish them off.”

Montreal fired 31 shots on New York’s Henrik Lundqvist, who recorded his 10th career playoff shutout – a record high amongst active NHL goaltenders. The home side also had 24 of its shots blocked by the Rangers.

Andrew Shaw came closest to scoring for the Habs when his shot in the second-period grazed the outside of the post.

Lundqvist did the rest, earning the shutout despite struggling with his rebound control throughout the game.

With Montreal playing on the power play in the second period, the Rangers netminder tracked a cross-ice pass and made a diving save on Shea Weber’s one-timer.

In the third, Lundqvist somehow got the toe of his skate on a deflected shot by Montreal’s Artturi Lehkonen as Shaw crashed into the net.

“He (Lundqvist) played well, for sure,” said Weber. “He made a lot of the first saves and their team did a good job clearing out the second opportunities. We have to do a better job of getting in there and cleaning up the rebounds.”

Tanner Glass scored the game-winner for the visitors at 9:50 of the first period as he jumped on a loose puck after a Montreal face-off win and shovelled a backhand past an unsuspecting Carey Price.

“He got a lot of wood on it,” said Price, who made 29 saves in defeat. “It was a pretty good shot. I didn’t really think at the time that was going to be the difference.”

Michael Grabner added New York’s second in an empty net at 18:50 of the third.

Montreal has now dropped six of its last seven home playoff games against the Rangers dating back to 1996. When these two teams met in the playoffs in 2014 — the Rangers won that series 4-2 — New York won two of three games at the Bell Centre.

“We played very well tonight,” added Price. “We played well enough to win. We just have to keep that up and hopefully our luck will change.

“I’m sure it’s going to be tight for the rest of the way. We’re just going to have to make the best of every opportunity we get at the other end.”

Notes: New York has won the last two playoff matchups against Montreal (2014 and 1996). … The Rangers and Canadiens have now met 16 times in the playoffs. … Montreal served up 53 hits to New York’s 45.

Kelsey Patterson, The Canadian Press