MONTREAL - The Rangers allowed the first two goals to the Canadiens last Sunday at Madison Square Garden, then scored the next six.
What a difference a week makes.
At Bell Centre last night, the Canadiens scored the first two goals and didn't stop there. Henrik Lundqvist was chased midway through the second period and the Rangers lost, 6-0.
"No compete," Sean Avery said. "It's not about X's and O's. You've gotta play 60 minutes. We're not working hard enough, not being competitive, not representing your teammates."
After scoring 14 goals in two games, the Rangers have been blanked in the next two, with Jaroslav Halak doing the honors last night. He stopped 32 shots.
Sharpshooter Mike Cammalleri, who has 26 goals this season, has six against the Rangers, including two last night. He was left open far too often and might have 70 if the Canadiens faced the Blueshirts more often. He also had an assist on Benoit Pouliot's deflection on a power play in the second that upped the lead to 5-0 against goaltender Matt Zaba, who replaced Lundqvist and made his NHL debut.
After a solid first period, the Rangers (24-21-7) made it far too easy for the Canadiens, who breezed past the forwards and dozing defensemen and owned the crease. Michael Del Zotto, Marc Staal, Michal Rozsival, Dan Girardi, the list goes on.
Penalties to Aaron Voros and Marian Gaborik negated two power plays and the Canadiens scored on the ensuing four-on-fours. Staal and Del Zotto turned over the puck in the neutral zone on those and Girardi couldn't get his stick on the puck on a delayed icing while being chased by Maxim Lapierre, who came back and knocked the puck past Lundqvist. "It came up low and he hit my stick," Girardi said. "But I've got to get that puck no matter what happens."
Asked about the team's compete level, coach John Tortorella said: "At times it was decent, other times it wasn't there. We beat ourselves a couple times; our spinning in front of our net hurt us. I'm not gonna dissect it."
Lundqvist, who left the locker room quickly, had to be happy to leave this city. He had allowed 14 goals in his last three appearances here, and after playing 26:17 last night, it was 18.
At 9:05 of the first period, Chris Drury lost a faceoff and Scott Gomez, standing in front when Lundqvist kicked out his right pad to stop Jaroslav Spacek's slapper, put the rebound between the goalie's skate and left post as Rozsival tapped at his stick. Cammalleri ripped his first at 2:35 of the second and Montreal poured it on.
Zaba, 26, who has been shuttling back and forth as a backup with Chad Johnson, made 14 saves on 16 shots and couldn't stop the Pouliot goal, although he made two nice saves on odd-man rushes. Tomas Plekanec flipped a backhander over Zaba in the third on a five-on-three.
"I wasn't nervous," Zaba said. "I just wanted to go in and not be scared to make mistakes, just try to give the guys a boost and give the coaches a look. It was kind of like a job interview for me."
Any repeats of this game, and plenty of Rangers might be looking for new employment.