Canadiens drop series opener 2-0 to Rangers

The New York Rangers don't mind starting the Stanley Cup playoffs on the road.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is set for Friday night at Bell Centre.

PITTSBURGH - Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 31 shots in a surprise start in place of injured Matt Murray and the Pittsburgh Penguins opened their Stanley Cup title defence with a 3-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night. It always happens. Perhaps, this is a sign that something special is in the air for NY this spring. If the Rangers can return to NY with two games in their back pocket, that will set the stage for two massive games at Madison Square Garden. You have to bet with the trends here and pick Montreal to tie up this series. The Rangers have 10 previous participants.

The Montreal fan base, known for its long memories, will nearly certainly let Kreider know they haven't forgotten.

Note: Jeff Blashill of the Red Wings was named coach of the US men's hockey team that will compete in the world championships next month in a key tuneup ahead of next year's Winter Olympics.

Offensive depth has been a problem for the Canadiens since ... well, for a very long time. Blue Jackets rookie D Zach Werenski, playing his first game in 10 days after suffering a shoulder injury, led Columbus with 12 shot attempts (6 SOG) in a 3-1 Game One loss at Pittsburgh...

"My game hasn't changed", Kreider said.

"I was thinking pass to the point but I had a second there and I just wanted to get it up and lucky it went in", he explained.

One of the biggest differences between the two series is behind Montreal's bench. Coach Claude Julien said Pacioretty is expected to play. With Lundqvist stopping 15 shots and the Blueshirts killing two consecutive penalties late, an interference by McDonagh at 15:39 and a questionable high-sticking on Brendan Smith at 17:35, the Rangers weathered the storm. But the team knows that it's a clean slate on both sides for Game 1. Since the trade deadline, Montreal added size and a more physical element to their game, particularly through the acquisition of players like Steve Ott, Dwight King and Andreas Martinsen.

The Rangers are tied for the National Hockey League lead in playoff road wins since the start of the 2014 Playoffs (13). It doesn't really matter where you finish or what your record was against a team.

The New York Rangers went into Game 1 as underdogs. Kreider led the way with 28, followed by Michael Grabner's 27 and Rick Nash with 23. Montreal, Boston and St. Louis are the three teams this year to do that. "It's two of the best in the world going at it". "Their team did a good job of clearing out the second opportunities and we have to do a better job getting here. If he can see it, he's going to save it, and sometimes when he can't see it he's going to save it, so we're going to have to be real sharp with the puck when we get our scoring chances and find ways to maybe get some bounces by him".

The Rangers turned the tables in the first half of the second frame, but Price held Montreal in the game.

Lundqvist is ready for the postseason and if he can keep confident and stay in the right mindset, he will have a good performance.

"Starting on the road here will give us a good chance to establish our playoff game", Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi said. But you have to take advantage of it.

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