Riding the high off their Tuesday night victory at Madison Square Garden, the New York Rangers will take the ice at Bell Centre in Montreal to take on the Canadiens in Game 5 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal locked at two games apiece:
Date: Thursday, April 20
Puck drop: 7 p.m. ET
Venue: Bell Centre
TV: USA, MSG Network
Radio: 98.7 ESPN
Momentum is in the Blueshirts’ favor after snapping a six-game home playoff losing streak with a 2-1 victory over the Habs in Game 4 where head coach Alain Vigneault shuffled up his lines.
Desperate for an offensive spark after getting manhandled 3-1 in Game 3, Vigneault dressed rookie Pavel Buchnevich and put him on the first line in replace of Tanner Glass.
He also moved Derek Stepan to the second line, Mats Zuccarello to the third and Michael Grabner to the fourth.
The move seemed to work as New York outskated and outworked the Canadiens on Tuesday, though the scoreboard didn’t necessarily reflect that.
However, it did nothing for the power play, which is 0-for-12 during the series.
It’s a disappointing and frustrating turn of events for the Rangers’ special teams unit considering they were 13-for-38 in the final 15 games of the regular season, good for a 34.2 percent success rate.
Vigneault could roll with Buchnevich for a second-straight game if he is looking for a dangerous shot to put on the power play.
If he is looking for a more grind-it-out kind of result, he could insert Glass back in the lineup to play alongside Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider.
For an offense that still isn’t clicking despite dominating Game 4, it might be best to go with Buchnevich.
Rangers’ projected forward lines for Game 5:
Buchnevich – Zibanejad – Kreider
Vesey – Stepan – Nash
Miller – Hayes – Zuccarello
Grabner – Lindberg – Fast
McDonagh – Girardi
Staal – Holden
Skjei – Smith