Rangers Have Moore Than Enough To Defeat Canadiens
Some players flourish against particular opponents. Such is the case with Ranger rookie pivot Dominic Moore, who continued his mastery of Montreal (7-3-1) in a 5-2 win at The Bell Centre Saturday night. Moore finished with two goals- opening and closing the scoring to continue his run of good luck against the Canadiens. Including an auspicious debut with three assists in a triumph back in '03-04, Moore has tallied all six NHL points (3-3-6) against Montreal.
It started 2:46 in off a brilliant rush with Moore going around Andrei Markov and deking Jose Theodore to give New York an early 1-0 lead. Ex-Hab Jason Ward and Fedor Tyutin notched assists.
After killing another boneheaded Ville Nieminen penalty, the Rangers increased their lead to two when Jaromir Jagr beat Theodore on a one-timer from the right wing for his league-leading 11th goal of the season. It extended Jagr's point-streak to nine straight (9-5-14). The goal came off a three-on-two rush with Michael Nylander feeding Jagr, who got just enough on the shot to bounce off Theodore's glove and in at 10:37.
Just 1:08 later, Martin Rucinsky potted a Marek Malik rebound from the side of the net for his sixth of the season to make it 3-0, forcing Montreal coach Claude Julien to call a timeout. He pulled Theodore (3 GA on 13 shots) after the period, replacing him with Yann Danis.
Montreal steadied and started to carry the play in the second. But rookie netminder Henrik Lundqvist- making his seventh start in eight games, repelled all 10 Canadien shots including a point blank robbery of Alexander Perezhogin to keep it a three-goal cushion entering the third.
That's when the momentum swung in the Canadiens' favor when they got right back in the game with two goals 3:37 apart. First, former Ranger Alexei Kovalev cut it to 3-1 with a left wing blast 51 seconds in. With the Rangers backing off, Kovalev fired home his third of the season, handcuffing Lundqvist. Richard Zednik and Saku Koivu assisted.
Zednik cut it to 3-2 when he was left alone in the slot to one-time a Koivu pass through Lundqvist at 4:28, forcing Ranger coach Tom Renney to use his timeout to settle his club down. That along with a change to his second line allowed his team to regain a two-goal lead 5:06 later.
Replacing Fedor Fedorov with Jed Ortmeyer, Renney saw the move pay off when Ortmeyer setup Steve Rucchin on the doorstep to give his team a 4-2 lead with 10:26 left. Earlier in the shift, Rucchin saved a possible tying goal with a backcheck on Pierre Dagenais, not allowing him to get a shot from in close. He was rewarded when Ortmeyer spotted him in front, passing to Rucchin, who one-timed a backhand by Danis. Rucinsky added an assist on the play for a two-point night.
On the next shift, Moore erased any doubt when he beat Danis top shelf to give the Rangers a 5-2 lead 38 seconds later with 9:48 remaining. Taking advantage of a Koivu turnover, Moore moved in on Danis and beat him high for an unassisted goal. It was his third tally of the season against his favorite opponent. Earlier this season, he helped the Rangers earn a point with a power play redirect in the home opener (4-3 OT loss).
Lundqvist was outstanding, making 38 saves including stopping 17 of 19 in the third. Danis stopped 14 of 16 shots in relief of Theodore.
The news wasn't all good for the Blueshirts, who saw Rucinsky knocked out of the game with a knee injury, courtesy of a late hit by Montreal defenseman Craig Rivet. The question is with the Rangers (6-3-3) not having an enforcer for Monday's rematch at The Garden, will they target Rivet? If Rucinsky can't go, Jeff Taffe could take his place. Recently reassigned Petr Prucha scored a goal in his Wolf Pack debut Saturday.