Through the first 15 playoff games, the Rangers had limited opponents to 32 or fewer shots 11 times. In eight of those games, the Blueshirts allowed 27 or fewer.
That was not the case, however, Monday night, in the 16th postseason contest. In Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, the Canadiens fired 41 shots at Henrik Lundqvist, who was sensational in the Rangers' 3-1 win. The Habs missed the net on another 22 and had 17 blocked.
Do the math: 80 shot attempts. The Rangers had 46.
So it was no surprise to hear players and coach Alain Vigneault say: Despite the 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, we've got to tighten things up at home.
"We'll feel good about ourselves tonight [Monday] and start preparing right away, make adjustments," defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "There were a lot of scoring chances we gave up. We can't expect to only give up one goal every time with the grade-A chances they had. We've got to look at some things. We spent a little bit too much time in the box, a little too much time in our zone."
Although the Rangers led 2-1 after the first 20 minutes at Bell Centre, they were outplayed for about 17.
"I think the message will probably be hammered pretty hard about our first period," Brad Richards said Tuesday, "and we're going to try to correct that. So whether we have a lead or not, we can't come up and start like that again. We have to try to do that back to them in our building. I think that will be the focus."
Vigneault underscored that strategy for Game 3, which is tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden. "Give Montreal full marks, they came at us real hard -- but at the end of the day, we need to play better than we did," he said. "We can't rely on our goaltending the way we did [Monday] night, and we're not going to next game."
In their five-game winning streak, the Rangers have stayed pretty disciplined, and the penalty-kill came through when they weren't, but some of Monday's penalties irked Vigneault as well.
"Three penalties, 200 feet from our net, not crazy about it," he said. Benoit Pouliot was the culprit on two of them: tripping P.K. Subban at 8:44 of the second period behind the net, and with 4:22 left in regulation, he boarded Alexei Emelin down deep, and coach Michel Therrien pulled goaltender Dustin Tokarski for a six-on-four attack. Lundqvist had to make five saves to keep the margin at two goals.
In the big picture, the Rangers understand that they need to ignore the early advantage in the series. This spring, the Kings became just the fourth team in history to rebound from a 3-0 deficit to edge San Jose in seven games in the first round and the Blackhawks came back from 0-2 to oust the Blues.
"You saw a 3-0 lead gone and we came back from 3-1, so no lead is safe," said Rick Nash, who has scored in both games against the Habs. "We've got to be on our toes. We know we're going to see their best [game] and we have to make sure we have ours."
Notes & quotes: The Rangers were off Tuesday but will have a full skate at the Garden Wednesday and Derick Brassard, who sat out Game 2 with an undisclosed injury, is expected to practice. Asked if Brassard, who is termed "day-to-day," would play in Game 3, Vigneault used one of his favorite phrases that foretold a lineup change: "If I were a betting man . . . "