The calendar said March. The intensity and atmosphere that filled Madison Square Garden suggested April or May.
It’s been two years since the Rangers have been in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but a visit from the Canadiens gave them a sneak preview of what could soon be in store.
Ryan Callahan, Marian Gaborik, and Brian Boyle scored 1:07 apart in the Rangers’ highest-scoring first period in more than 11 years, and New York held on for a 6-3 victory over the Canadiens in a feisty game last night.
The Rangers and Canadiens, fighting for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference with three weeks left, staged a postseason-like show at the boisterous Garden that held large pockets of vocal, enthusiastic Montreal fans.
New York, in seventh place, moved within 5 points of sixth-place Montreal with 10 games left for both. More importantly, the Rangers are 4 points ahead of Buffalo and Carolina.
Artem Anisimov scored on a breakaway at 5:28, but Montreal tied it 1:43 later when defenseman P.K. Subban answered. After that, it was all New York.
Dan Girardi started the barrage with 9:35 left with a rebound goal. Callahan made it 3-1 with 2:51 remaining, Gaborik followed 32 seconds later, and Boyle closed the spurt with 1:44 to go, sending beleaguered goalie Carey Price to the bench after he faced only 12 shots.
Capitals 3, Devils 0 — Michal Neuvirth stopped 33 shots for his fourth shutout and Washington put another dagger in host New Jersey’s playoff hopes.
The loss left New Jersey 6 points behind idle Buffalo in the race for the eighth and final playoff berth in the East with 11 games to play. The Capitals are tied for first with 94 points.
Coyotes 3, Canucks 1 — Radim Vrbata and Shane Doan scored 1:18 apart on the same power play late in the third period, backup Jason LaBarbera made 46 saves, and Phoenix stifled host Vancouver.
Hurricanes 3, Islanders 2 — Joni Pitkanen scored at 3:58 of overtime for host Carolina.