No consolation for Rangers this time as comeback falls short
2nd March 2019

This time, the comeback fell short in regulation.

After wiping out two-goal deficits in back-to-back games to take two of the Eastern Conference’s best to overtime — only to come up short in both — the Rangers took the more simple route to a loss Friday, falling to the Canadiens 4-2 at the Garden.

Brendan Lemieux scored his first goal as a Ranger to make it a 3-2 game with 2:32 left, shoving a loose puck home with Carey Price scrambling to get back in net.

But Joel Armia completed his hat trick on an empty-netter with 36.7 seconds left, pushing the playoff-chasing Habs (35-23-7) past the Rangers (27-27-10).

Armia had given the Canadiens the lead on a freak goal at 14:38 of the second period. Christian Folin tried to send a pass down the left boards, but the puck appeared to hit off something and took a sharp right turn toward the net. An alert Henrik Lundqvist dropped down to make the late save, but Armia walked in to flip the rebound through for the 2-1 advantage.

Then early in the third period, Armia added his second of the night, this one more conventional. He skated into the zone with the puck, holding off Brady Skjei, and tucked one past Lundqvist to go up 3-1 at 4:29.

The Rangers had come out buzzing early, with an active Vladislav Namestnikov in the middle of numerous quality scoring chances. He was responsible for six of their first 14 shots on goal, with one of them getting through. Skjei flung a wrister from just inside the blue line and Namestnikov got a stick on it, the redirection beating Price for the 1-0 lead at 4:41 of the first period.

Lundqvist stopped all 11 shots he faced in the first 20 minutes, including the 22,434th save of his career to pass Hall of Fame goalie Ed Belfour for seventh place on the all-time NHL saves list.

But the Canadiens tied the game at 7:27 of the second period, set up by a spinning pass by Tomas Tatar from the right circle. Brendan Gallagher crashed the net to receive the puck, beating Kevin Shattenkirk, and finished off the one-timer to make it 1-1.

Making his NHL debut, defenseman Libor Hajek was not on the ice for any goals, holding his own in 17:35 while picking up a holding-the-stick penalty.

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