Depleted Rangers lose to Canadiens, 3-0

Rangers goaltender Martin Biron makes a save against Rangers goaltender Martin Biron makes a save against Canadiens' Brian Gionta during the second period. (Feb. 23, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

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MONTREAL -- Two more potentially serious injuries. Another soft offensive performance. Another benching of a star player. And another Rangers loss at their House of Horrors known as Bell Centre.

With three second-period goals Saturday night, the Canadiens pulled the rug out from under Martin Biron and the depleted Rangers, and Carey Price made 17 saves in Montreal's 3-0 win.

At 8-7-2, the Rangers look like a playoff bubble team, although there is two-thirds of a season to play. But without any production -- they have scored only five goals in the last four games -- even that prediction could be undermined.

Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi, two of the team's top three defensemen, left the game and didn't return.

Max Pacioretty left his feet, elbow raised, to plaster McDonagh face-first into the glass at 7:20 of the second period. Pacioretty received a two-minute minor for boarding.

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Girardi was helped off, without putting weight on his right ankle, after a gutty block of P.K. Subban's slap shot on a five-on-three in the final minutes.

Coach John Tortorella provided no updates on the injuries, but he believed Pacioretty deserved harsher punishment. He started his postgame news conference by asking: "How high did Pacioretty jump on his hit? Can anybody give me an answer? I'm asking you guys. Can anybody give me an answer? Over-under?"

Then he shot down a response of "six inches" with "Wrong."

Pacioretty was not made available to reporters.

The Rangers, who have a 0-6-1 losing streak here dating to March 17, 2009, hardly did anything right, including no retribution exacted on Pacioretty, who had been crunched by McDonagh five minutes earlier.

"With McDonagh out of our lineup, it hurts. He takes out a lot of minutes," Tortorella said. "We have to gain some confidence, we have to stabilize ourselves, but we can't fall into a panic mode."

The Rangers need Rick Nash, who was placed on injured reserve Saturday night, to return, as well as defenseman Michael Del Zotto, who was out with a hip/leg injury.

Compounding the issue: Few contributions are coming from slumping Brad Richards and erratic Marian Gaborik, who was benched for the third period after a late second-period penalty.

"We were not good enough from top to bottom," Biron said. "We have pretty much the same core guys who were here for the last three years and we were hard to play against. We've got to get back to that, and we will put the work in."

Richards had no explanation. "We've got to find a way to get out of it,'' he said. "Everybody in here wants to do more than this. It's a tough league. Nobody's giving us any freebies."

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Erik Cole opened the scoring when he knocked Matt Gilroy's quick clearing attempt right back past Biron at 1:20 of the second. Alex Galchenyuk got a gift when his close-in shot was blocked by a sliding Girardi and popped over Biron at 13:36 as Lars Eller took a tomahawk-style chop at it. Biron protested that Eller's stick was above the legal limit, but a review let the goal stand.

Eller made it 3-0 on the power play with 25.3 seconds left in the second period.

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