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Defense slides as Montreal hex strikes again in 4-1 loss

First of all, let's put the rest the spitting incident that caused a fuss on blogs and twitter and You Tube.

The video appears to show that during the celebration on the bench after the Canadiens second goal, P.K. Subban appears to spit on the ice in the direction of Michael Del Zotto and glare.

Subban told Canadien reporters: "I know him. I wasn't spitting at anybody."  Del Zotto said: "I don't know what you're talking about. I'd have to see it."

Now the game: No offense, less defense.

 

The Rangers next visit to their personal Hell’s Ditch known as Bell Centre won’t be until next season---unless the Canadiens make the playoffs. If they played the Blueshirts more often, they just might.

Scoring three unanswered goals in the second period to break a 1-1 tie, the Canadiens knocked off the Rangers 4-1 last, for the sixth consecutive time. The mark is 0-5-1, with the last Blueshirt win coming on March 17, 2009.

  “For some reason, whenever we come into this building, we’re running around a bit,” said captain Ryan Callahan. “The staple of our team is defensive hockey ---and we addressed it before the game---but once again, it bites us.”

 Playing their fourth game in sixth nights, the Rangers unraveled in the middle period, unable to keep up with the speedy wingers and failing to clear the zone or the crease. Specifically culpable was the Mike Rupp-Wojtek Wolski-Kris Newbury line, on ice for three of the four goals. Rookie defenseman Stu Bickel also struggled, playing his worst game this season. “We had zero structure defensively,” said coach John Tortorella.

 Early in the second, Erik Cole’s long shot hit Pacioretty, screening in front, in the leg, and deflected past Henrik Lundqvist at 3:54. The Canadians kept pressing and Scott Gomez fed Mike Blunden in front for an open look at 7:11. David Desharnais finished off the trio of goals at 12:18, racing untouched to the net to tip in Pacioretty’s pass from the right boards. That gave three Habs three points each: Desharnais (two assists and a goal), Pacioretty (two goals and an assist) and Cole (three assists). “At that time of the game, our end zone coverage was just ridiculous,” said Tortorella.

                     In the third, the Canadiens were content to protect the lead. 

                    “We gave up way too many chances from the slot,” said Carl Hagelin, who  was fine after a hit to the head from Rene Bourque, making his Canadiens debut after a trade from Calgary for Mike Cammalleri. “Usually we keep teams to the outside. And three goals is tough to come back from.”

                     The Rangers didn’t severely test Peter Budaj, the understudy to Carey Price, who was playing his first game since Dec. 21. He hadn’t won since Nov. 12, but made 28 saves and is 2-4-0. Lundqvist fell to 19-9-4. But all the Canadiens played with zest. They grabbed a point in a shootout loss to Ottawa on Saturday night, and are 17-20-8.

                 The Rangers lone goal came when Budaj stopped Derek Stepan’s point-blank wrister, but couldn’t control the rebound and John Mitchell pounced, slamming the puck in from the doorstep at 12:49. It was Stepan’s third point in two games after a goal and assist in Toronto on Saturday.  

               Pacioretty’s goal at 2:39 of the first came off a Rangers misplay behind their net. Bickel bumped into Lundqvist at the left post, knocking him over. “Tough start,” Lundqvist said. “I lost my stick and was late to get to the other side and it was a mad scramble.” The puck came to the slot and with Rangers down all over the place, Pacioretty hit the middle of the net

               Maybe it's the sight of the New York jerseys.  The Canadiens have won just nine home games this season---two of them against the Rangers.   

              The next two games are at home (Nashville Tuesday, Pittsburgh Thursday), and Brandon Dubinsky could be back after another full day off Monday, which will strenghten the lines. Newbury, who made the trip from Norfolk, presumably will be sent back and Wolski (6:20) will likely sit when Ruslan Fedotenko returns.

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