Henrik Lundqvist was back in net for the Rangers in their home opener Monday night, but the Vezina Trophy winner was unable to end the team's slump.
Lundqvist was solid if unspectacular in his return from a two-game absence for an undisclosed injury. The Rangers' problems persisted at the other end of the ice, as they lost to the Canadiens, 2-0. The Blueshirts (3-7) have been held scoreless in three of their 10 games and have been outscored 35-15.
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"We had some really good chances," Lundqvist said. "I think if we could get a goal late in the first or maybe in the second, it would be a totally different game because it brings a lot of confidence to the group. Now, when we don't score and we fall behind, they just wait for mistakes and it's a tougher game for us."
Lundqvist had 25 saves and matched Canadiens goalie Peter Budaj for the first 36:34 of the game before Montreal broke through. With Montreal on the power play after Brian Boyle's roughing penalty, Tomas Plekanec beat Lundqvist with a backhanded shot from just outside the crease late in the second period.
"Wrong player, wrong place there," Lundqvist said. "He was very patient and I hoped for a shot. I took the angle away and that's why I was kind of late coming across, but he made a good move. I wish I got a better push off there. Most guys there will shoot and not walk around like he did, but he's a really good player."
The Canadiens added a controversial insurance goal with 2:51 remaining in the third period when Alex Galchenyuk appeared to guide a pass into the net with his skate. The play was reviewed and the goal was upheld.
"If that's not a kick, I don't know what a kick is," Lundqvist said. "Seriously, there needs to be some sort of consistency in the calls. I think that's a kick. That's my opinion. Just a frustrating goal there. It kind of kills the whole game."
Lundqvist, who had been sidelined since Oct. 19, declared himself ready to play Tuesday night against the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.
"I would love to play," Lundqvist said. "I've been resting. But I leave it up to the coaches."
Coach Alain Vigneault didn't tip his hand about his goalie decision for Tuesday night, but he was pleased with Lundqvist's performance.
"He gave us a chance to win," Vigneault said. "He didn't have a lot of work to do, but when he did, he was sharp."