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Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev settles down after rough start vs. Canadiens

Montreal Canadiens' Charles Hudon (54) moves in on

Montreal Canadiens' Charles Hudon (54) moves in on Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev as Rangers' Brendan Lemieux defends during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in Montreal. Credit: AP/Graham Hughes

MONTREAL — Coach David Quinn made sure to give credit to goalie Alexandar Georgiev for battling through a rough start and helping the Rangers come back to beat the Canadiens, 6-5.

The coach also admitted that when the Rangers fell behind 4-0, he considered pulling him.

But because the visiting backup goaltender doesn’t sit on the bench at the Bell Centre (he stays in the locker room), and because the place was packed with 21,302 who would’ve made some noise while waiting for the switch, Quinn did not pull Georgiev after Montreal went up four 2:51 into the second period of Saturday night’s game.

“One of the things I was thinking, you bring Hank [Lundqvist] in, you might ignite the crowd,’’ Quinn said. “It’s a little dramatic when you bring a guy in, in this building, because he’s got to come in through the tunnel, and there’s a big hoopla bringing him in. I didn’t want to do that.’’

He was going to wait until the next stoppage to make the change, but after two quick Rangers goals, he decided to stay with Georgiev: “We had Hank warming up, we had Hank ready to go, but once we got the first one, and then the second, things started settling in, and I just thought the last thing I wanted to do was get the crowd riled up.’’

“It’s one of the tougher things as a goalie,” Georgiev said. “When things are not going well, you’re the last wall of defense and you have to be sharp no matter what happens around you. So I tried to keep all thoughts away from me, make some good saves and just be confident.’’

At the end, Georgiev couldn’t contain his excitement. “It’s just an unreal feeling that the guys kept at it,’’ he said. “Nobody gave up. And it’s rare that you get to come back from 4-0. Huge mental win for our team. I was just super-excited to get the ‘W.’ ’’

Blame for Buchnevich

Taking a penalty for too many men on the ice while shorthanded seemed an especially odd thing for the Rangers to do. Given that they had so much trouble with those penalties last season, it seemed fair to ask Quinn before Saturday’s game if there was some sort of structural or procedural reason for his team taking that same penalty in Friday’s 4-1 loss to the Senators in Ottawa.

No, he said. It was all Pavel Buchnevich’s fault.

“Pavel Buchnevich was apparently not paying attention to what was going on on the ice and jumped on the ice,’’ an annoyed-sounding Quinn said. “He’s never killed a penalty before in his life, and with 30 seconds to go on a penalty kill, he saw [Jesper] Fast come off the ice, whom he replaces five-on-five, and jumped on the ice. And you know, that was part of our problem [Friday] night: We weren’t focused. We weren’t dialed in, and that play symbolizes why we had our [butts] handed to us.’’

The Rangers were trailing 3-1 at the time of Buchnevich’s gaffe, which came midway through the second period and gave Ottawa a five-on-three advantage for 28 seconds. Former Ranger Anthony Duclair scored on the two-man advantage to make it 4-1. 

Haley is forgiven

Forward Micheal Haley returned to the lineup. He sat out two games after his slashing penalty in Florida on Nov. 16 that made Quinn so angry that he placed Haley on waivers the next day.

“He’s in the lineup. All is forgiven,’’ Quinn said.

Haley replaced Tim Gettinger, who played two games.

Quinn said he wanted to get Haley into the lineup because “he’s a veteran, he plays with passion . . . In the time he’s played for us, he’s done some good things.’’

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