Habs blank struggling Blueshirts
Montreal, QC (Sports Network) - Erik Cole, Alex Galchenyuk and Lars Eller all had second-period goals as the Montreal Canadiens cruised to a 3-0 victory over the reeling New York Rangers at Bell Centre.
All three players also recorded an assist to back a 17-save performance from Carey Price that resulted in the Montreal goaltender's 18th career shutout.
"It was a good team effort for 60 minutes," said Eller. "Our new line (referring to he, Cole and Galchenyuk) seemed to be clicking very well."
The surprising Canadiens are now 6-0-1 in their last seven games, with Tuesday's 3-1 decision over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden included in that stretch, and presently top the Eastern Conference with 26 points.
The Rangers, meanwhile, have now dropped a season-high three straight -- all of which have come with injured sniper Rick Nash out of the lineup -- and have mustered a mere three goals over that stretch.
Martin Biron stopped just 15-of-18 shots for New York, which was dealt its seventh consecutive defeat in Montreal as well.
"We have to try to gain some confidence," said Rangers head coach John Tortorella. "We have to stabilize ourselves and win a couple, but we can't fall into a panic mode."
Neither team gained an edge during a mostly uneventful first period, but the Canadiens thoroughly dominated the second to give Price all the support he would need.
A giveaway by the Rangers' Matt Gilroy deep in his own end led to the initial goal, with Cole firing a wrister off the turnover past Biron just 1:20 into the middle session to snap a personal nine-game pointless drought.
Galchenyuk made it a 2-0 game on a highlight-reel tally with 6:24 left in the frame, with the highly touted rookie rushing up the right wing and flipping the puck over both Biron and a sliding New York defenseman Dan Girardi for his third career NHL goal.
The Rangers continued to generate little offensively, then put themselves in a greater hole when Marian Gaborik was sent off for taking down the Habs' P.K. Subban near the end of the period.
Montreal capitalized on the man advantage, with Eller flicking a shot from the right point that re-directed off New York's Anton Stralman and into the net just 26 seconds prior to the second intermission.
Price wasn't overly tested the rest of the way in polishing off the shutout, with New York registered only four shots in the third period.
"We don't generate enough consistently," said Tortorella. "The second [period], they scored a goal, but then we're not having the puck offensively. Then they scored a power-play goal, but ours doesn't work. We had a good first period, and then it fell off."
Along with Nash, sidelined with an undisclosed injury, the Rangers were without forward Arron Asham (back spasms) for a second straight game as well as defenseman Michael Del Zotto, who hurt his hip in Thursday's loss at Ottawa. In addition, defenseman Ryan McDonagh exited the contest in the second period after being slammed into the boards by Montreal's Max Pacioretty, while Girardi left with 1:12 left after taking a shot off his foot ... Forward Rene Bourque was scratched for Montreal due to the flu, but rookie wing Brendan Gallagher returned to action after missing three games with a concussion ... The Rangers fell to 0-6-1 at the Bell Centre since earning a 4-3 shootout win there on Mar. 17, 2009 ... Galchenyuk also had a goal in Tuesday's triumph over the Rangers.
02/23 23:56:36 ET