Rangers hand Canadiens seventh straight loss with 4-1 victory

MONTREAL — Filip Chytil scored two goals as the New York Rangers defeated Montreal 4-1 to send the Canadiens to their seventh straight loss on Thursday night.

Chris Kreider and Braden Schneider also scored for the Rangers (22-12-6), who have won three in a row. Jaroslav Halak had 17 saves in the win.

Joel Armia was the lone scorer for Montreal (15-21-3). Jake Allen stopped 27 shots.

“It was a bit of a slow start with not many shots either way. It may be easier to get up for Carolina and sometimes harder for (Montreal),” said Schneider. “Can’t take them lightly though.

"We knew they like to clog the centre of the ice so quick movement was the key. We got a lot of talent and people that can do some pretty special things with the puck.”

After a scoreless opening period that saw a total of 10 shots between the two sides, Kreider broke the ice 7:43 into the second.

Montreal’s league-worst power play continued to struggle when an errant pass from Juraj Slafkovsky was intercepted by Kreider who made no mistake converting the breakaway.

“We don’t really worry about the team we play against,” said Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant. “They came out and they clogged the middle of the neutral zone really well. Fortunately for us, we got that first goal and that was big.”

Montreal almost knotted the score at the 12-minute mark when Jonathan Drouin tried to sneak a shot through at the near post, but hit the upright instead.

Schneider doubled the Rangers's lead 28 seconds after the Canadiens's missed opportunity with a point shot into the top corner of the net.

New York did not stop there, padding its lead behind Chytil's 10th of the season just 59 seconds later.

Montreal came out firing in the third period, creating a handful of strong chances early but to no avail.

The Canadiens finally put an end to Halak’s shutout bid, when Armia hopped on a bouncing puck in the slot at 14:46 for his first of the season.

“It’s a weight lifted off the shoulders, for sure,” said Armia. “I know I haven’t been performing at my best and I’ve been trying to fix it, but you get a goal and do it again next game.”

Chytil added an empty netter for his second of the night with 1:10 left to seal the victory.

“There’s a lot that goes into being hard to play against and I think that today was a lot better,” said Canadiens forward Jake Evans. “The scores are the only the only similarity (to last season), but everyone is so driven to fix this.”

ALL-STAR SUZUKI

Canadiens centre Nick Suzuki was named to his second all-star team on Thursday night. The 23-year-old, who will play for the Atlantic Division squad, has 32 points (15 goals, 17 assists) in 38 games this season.

GALLAGHER STILL OUT

A Canadiens team desperately lacking veteran leadership will have to do without one of their most senior players. Brendan Gallagher was listed as out with a lower-body injury. The winger has now missed 14 of the club’s 39 games.

SPECIAL TEAMS WOES

Montreal's 32nd-ranked power play failed to convert on its two man advantages but conceded its first short-handed goal of the year. The Canadiens have failed to score in nine of their last ten power plays.

UP NEXT:

Canadiens: Host the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.

Rangers: Face the Devils in New Jersey on Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 5, 2023.

Elias Grigoriadis, The Canadian Press