The New York Rangers haven’t fared too well without Rick Nash. Coach John Tortorella’s club will be without the top-line forward for the third straight game on Saturday when it travels north for a date with the Montreal Canadiens. Nash, who is nursing an undisclosed injury, missed the teams’ earlier meeting at Madison Square Garden - an aesthetically challenged 3-1 victory by the Canadiens on Tuesday.
The venue shifts to the Bell Centre, where Montreal has won its last six meetings and eight of nine (8-0-1) with its Original Six rival. The Canadiens saw their season-high five-game winning streak come to an end with a 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday. Max Pacioretty continued his strong surge since scoring from center ice against Carolina by tallying twice versus the Islanders. The Connecticut native also scored against the Rangers on Tuesday.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS (Montreal)
ABOUT THE RANGERS (8-6-2): Tortorella is known for his postgame press conferences - with varying degrees of length. Following the Rangers’ loss to Montreal on Tuesday, the fiery coach did his best to assess the damage. “I thought it was probably one of the worst hockey games I’ve been involved in. Both teams,” Tortorella said. The contest featured plenty of icings while both clubs congested the middle of the rink - leaving fans searching for coffee. Marian Gaborik, who leads the Rangers with seven goals, has only two in February.
ABOUT THE CANADIENS (11-4-2): Rookie Brendan Gallagher could return to the ice following a three-game absence with a concussion. Gallagher will need to receive the approval from the medical staff Saturday morning, however. Gallagher had worked well with linemates Pacioretty and David Desharnais, leaving struggling Erik Cole relegated to the third line. Brandon Prust missed practice Friday because of a therapy day. The former Ranger had an assist in his first trip back to Madison Square Garden since inking a four-year deal in the off-season.
1. New York’s Carl Hagelin saw his five-game point streak come to an end in Thursday’s 3-2 shootout loss in Ottawa. The Swede, who had an assist versus Montreal, collected five goals and three helpers during the stretch.
2. Montreal D Raphael Diaz, who leads the team with 11 assists, saw his three-game point streak end versus the Islanders.
3. New York recalled veteran D Steve Eminger from Connecticut of the American Hockey League.
PREDICTION: Rangers 3, Canadiens 2