What a difference a day makes.
When he stood in front of the media after Friday night’s listless and disappointing 4-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators, Rangers coach David Quinn was positively seething. He made it clear that he was “unhappy with everybody.’’
On Saturday night, after his team rallied from a four-goal deficit to beat the Montreal Canadiens, 6-5, at the Bell Centre, the second-year coach was feeling just the opposite.
“I couldn’t be prouder of these guys, the way we competed from the drop of the puck to the horn blowing at the end after 60 minutes,’’ Quinn said. “From our goalie to our ‘D’ corps to our forwards — just a real team effort.’’
Quinn had praise for everyone in the lineup, but he positively gushed about winger Brendan Lemieux. He scored twice, including a shorthanded goal that tied it at 5-5 at 8:40 of the third period after a nifty feed from Brett Howden.
Lemieux was sporting a black eye from his midweek fight with Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson and playing with a broken tooth suffered from a high stick in the Ottawa game.
“I’d like to give him another black eye for that too-many-men-on-the-ice [penalty in the third period],’’ Quinn joked. “But he played too well, so I won’t do that. I’ve talked about him a lot — I love him as a player. He’s a great kid, he works hard, he’s everything you want as a player and I’m happy for him that he got rewarded statistically.’’
Lemieux said he’d never had a week quite like this one. But with his father, Claude, a former Montreal Canadiens star, in attendance, getting the win and the goals in that building meant a lot to him.
“This is a special place to play and it feels good winning here,’’ he said while sporting the “Broadway Hat” that the team awards to the player of the game.
“I’ve been on the wrong end of a few bad bounces physically, and it’s been tough,’’ Lemieux said. “But I think it was a lot like our game tonight. You’ve just got to believe in it. How well you battle adversity builds character. And for our group and for me personally, I’ve always tried to do that to the best of my abilities. And I think our group learned a valuable lesson tonight to try to hold on to going forward.’’
Notes & quotes: Because fourth-line center Greg McKegg suffered a lower-body injury Saturday, the Rangers called up center Boo Nieves from AHL Hartford on Sunday. To make room on the roster, the team returned LW Tim Gettinger to Hartford . . . Former Rangers fan favorite Mats Zuccarello will return to Madison Square Garden for the first time as a visiting player Monday when the Rangers face the Wild. Zuccarello was traded to Dallas last February and signed with the Wild as a free agent during the summer.