Nash leads Rangers to even the series with Canadiens
Rick Nash and Jimmy Vesey celebrate Nash's goal against the Canadiens on April 18, 2017 (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
By Denis Gorman, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, April 18, 2017 10:00PM EDT
NEW YORK -- Rick Nash's tie-breaking goal early in the second period lifted the New York Rangers to a 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarter-finals Tuesday night.
The best-of-seven is tied at two games apiece. Game 5 is Thursday at Bell Centre in Montreal.
Jesper Fast also scored for New York. Fast and Nash's goals were only New York's fifth and sixth in the Rangers last seven playoff games at Madison Square Garden.
The win snapped New York's six game losing streak at home in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Rangers last won a home playoff game in Game 1 of the 2015 Eastern Conference final.
Torrey Mitchell found the back of the net for the Canadiens. Carey Price made 30 saves.
Henrik Lundqvist finished with 23 saves for the Rangers. Lundqvist's toughest stops occurred on Brendan Gallagher and Andrew Shaw in the first, and on an Alex Galchenyuk shot in the third where the New York goaltender turned to find the puck alongside the far post.
Lundqvist also benefited from some good fortune as Shea Weber's slapshot with 1:18 left in regulation hit the post.
After spending Monday reiterating the importance of playing their brand of hockey, Game 4 was contested at the Rangers' breakneck pace. New York outshot Montreal, 32-24.
Nash broke a 1-1 tie 4:28 into the second period with his second of the playoffs and his 14th in 69 career Stanley Cup playoff games. Nash's goal was the culmination of a sequence which began with Ryan McDonagh keeping the puck in the offensive zone at the blue line against a pressuring Max Pacioretty, before firing a pass that the first overall pick in the 2002 draft corralled along the goal-line before stuffing it through Price's five hole.
Price's toughest save came on a sprawling stop in the third period on New York rookie Jimmy Vesey to keep the deficit at one. The Rangers forced Price to work more than he had in Game 3 by making a concerted effort to drive to the net.
The teams traded goals in the first and went into intermission tied 1-1.
Fast opened the scoring at 11:39 with his first of the of the playoffs. Fast had jumped on an Andrei Markov turnover in the far corner, then curled towards the net and shovelled a backhander between Price's legs to give New York its first lead since Game 2.
Mitchell equalized seven minutes later with a tap-in off Weber's cross-ice feed to complete a 2 on 1.
As had been expected, Alain Vigneault made changes to the New York lineup, inserting Pavel Buchnevich and Nick Holden for Tanner Glass and Kevin Klein. While New York's defence pairs remained the same as Games 1 and 2, the forward units were reconfigured.
The Canadiens started the game with the same forward lines and defence pairings as Game 3. As the game progressed, though, Claude Julien remade his forward corps, most notably putting Alex Radulov on a line with Galchenyuk and Pacioretty.