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Rangers are blanked by Canadiens in home opener

The Montreal Canadiens' Tomas Plekanec breaks toward Henrik

The Montreal Canadiens' Tomas Plekanec breaks toward Henrik Lundqvist to score a second-period goal during a game at Madison Square Garden. (Oct. 28, 2013) Credit: Jim McIsaac

Maybe the Rangers should've traded for Matt Moulson. Or Thomas Vanek, for that matter.

The Blueshirts came up empty Monday night, losing to the Canadiens, 2-0, in the long-awaited home opener at Madison Square Garden.

It's the third time the Rangers (3-7) have been shut out this season. They have totaled only 15 goals.

Moulson, meanwhile, scored twice for the Sabres on Monday night. The high-scoring Vanek, who was dealt to the Islanders on Sunday, will face the Rangers on Tuesday night.

Instead of those two players, the Rangers likely will have Carl Hagelin, who is expected to make his first appearance since offseason shoulder surgery. Rookie Jesper Fast was assigned to Hartford after last night's game.

"We expected a tight-checking game, and that's exactly what happened," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "Their power play scored and our power play was unable to do the job."

The Canadiens were 1-for-6 with the extra skater and the Rangers were 0-for-5, with only four shots. Montreal goaltender Peter Budaj, who had played only once previously this season, made 27 saves.

"We had a couple good chances," said Mats Zuccarello, who was robbed by Budaj with less than four minutes to play. "I'm pretty sure everyone is disappointed. But we can't get frustrated. We have a game [Tuesday night]."

Tomas Plekanec scored a power-play goal at 16:34 of the second period, completing a snappy passing display from Michael Bournival and Brian Gionta. Plekanec cut down the left side and in front of Henrik Lundqvist and slid in a backhander. Lundqvist missed the previous two games with an undisclosed injury.

Alex Galchenyuk scored near the right post on a pass from Lars Eller with 2:51 left in the third period. A video review upheld the goal, although it appeared that he kicked the puck in with his right skate.

A delayed penalty on Douglas Murray for decking the Rangers' Chris Kreider in mid-ice without the puck at 5:16 of the third resulted in a short power play. Just 21 seconds later, Montreal defensemen Raphael Diaz and Josh Georges collided, but Kreider was whistled for interference, negating the man advantage. Vigneault and Kreider disputed the call, and replays seemed to back them.

"The ref told me that when a defenseman is skating backward, if a player is standing there, he has to get out of the way," Vigneault said. "On the replay, I thought their player skated into their player."

Kreider was disappointed that he didn't score in the first on a rebound. "What net didn't I see? It was wide open," he said. "[Budaj] came across and got the top of his glove or his pad on it."

The Rangers had hoped to build on Saturday's effort in Detroit, when they fell behind 1-0 and 2-1 before winning in overtime on Derick Brassard's breakaway.

Brian Boyle, with a team-high four shots, said: "There's just such a small margin for error . . . We've got to get more high-quality shots and I've got to bury my chances. They're starting to come."

New York Sports