Canadiens defeat Rangers in OT, trail in series 2-1

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There were strange moments throughout Thursday’s game between the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers, and that includes the overtime goal that has given the Habs renewed life in these Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Canadiens got back into the Eastern Conference Final with a stunning 3-2 overtime victory over the Rangers to silence the boisterous crowd at Madison Square Garden. Alex Galchenyuk scored the winner, as the puck rebounded off New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist and seemed to hit the Montreal player off the chest, before it bounced into the net.

The goal came just 1:12 into the extra period.

From the NHL Situation Room Blog:

At 1:12 of overtime in the Montreal Canadiens/New York Rangers game, the Situation Room supported the referee’s call on the ice that the puck deflected off Alex Galchenyuk’s body and into the New York net in a legal fashion. According to Rule 78.4 “if an attacking player has the puck deflect into the net, off his skate or body, in any manner, the goal shall be allowed.” Good goal Montreal.

The Habs now trail the best-of-seven series 2-1. For the Rangers, a win would’ve put them one away from clinching a spot in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 20 years.

This game also featured a pair of incidents involving Brandon Prust and Daniel Carcillo that could result in supplementary discipline.

But standing in New York’s way of moving closer to the championship round on this night was 24-year-old goalie Dustin Tokarski, who was brilliant for the Habs. He made 35 saves, including a pair of sprawling stops off Martin St. Louis (click here to view the first one from the second period).

The Habs, outplayed throughout the evening, took a 2-1 lead late in the third period off a strange goal from Daniel Briere, who banked the puck in off a Rangers defender on a scramble around the net.

The Rangers tied it with 29 seconds left in regulation time, as a pass out front hit off the skate of Montreal defenseman Alexei Emelin and past Tokarski.

Undeterred, the Canadiens ended this one quickly in the overtime, and ensure this series goes back to Montreal for a fifth game.

Zetterberg on pace to play 1,000th game in Joe Louis Arena farewell

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Barring injury, Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg will get the opportunity to make his 1,000th NHL game even more special.

Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill confirmed today that Zetterberg will play tonight and tomorrow in Carolina, putting the 36-year-old on pace to play his 1,000th game on Apr. 9, the date of the final Wings game at Joe Louis Arena.

The Wings, who will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1990, have eight games left in their regular season. They host New Jersey on Apr. 9.

Tonight’s game was originally scheduled for Dec. 19, but had to be postponed due to poor ice conditions at PNC Arena.

Isles sign Northeastern captain Stevens

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John Stevens, who just wrapped a four-year career at Northeastern University, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders, the club announced on Monday.

Stevens, 22, went undrafted but emerged as a valuable player for the Huskies, culminating with a senior season in which he served as captain and averaged better than a point per game (28 in 25 contests).

Stevens is the son of longtime L.A. Kings associate coach John Stevens, who formerly served as the bench boss in Philly.

A third member 0f the Stevens clan, Nolan, also played this season at Northeastern — his junior campaign — and was taken by St. Louis in the fifth round of last year’s draft.

McElhinney to start for Leafs tomorrow

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Curtis McElhinney will start in goal for the Maple Leafs when they host Florida tomorrow.

Which means Toronto’s regular starter, Frederik Andersen, will not.

Andersen, hurt Saturday in Buffalo, only lasted 20 minutes of practice this morning. The Toronto Star, citing a Leafs source, is reporting that Andersen “took a blow to his jaw from a player in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Sabres.”

McElhinney is 4-5-0 with a .919 save percentage in 10 appearances for the Leafs this season. He told reporters that tomorrow will be the biggest start of his NHL career.

It remains to be seen who will back up McElhinney against the Panthers. The Leafs have recalled goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL on an emergency basis. All three netminders were on the ice today.

Update:

Expect Sparks to be the back-up tomorrow.

Toronto has a three-point playoff cushion, with eight games remaining.

The Leafs also recalled forward Kasperi Kapanen, the 22nd overall draft pick in 2014. Kapanen, 20, has 18 goals and 25 assists in 43 games for the Marlies this season. He’s expected to replace Ben Smith on the fourth line, alongside Brian Boyle and Matt Martin.

Habs sign d-man Mete, who ‘does everything’ for junior team

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Victor Mete, Montreal’s fourth-round pick at last year’s draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal, the club announced on Monday.

Mete, 18, is in his third year with OHL powerhouse London, and finished this season with 15 goals and 44 points in 50 games. He’s developed a reputation as a terrific skater, and often plays alongside fellow Knights d-man Olli Juolevi, who the Canucks took fifth overall at last year’s draft.

London assistant coach Dylan Hunter had high praise for Mete this season.

“When it comes to little nuances of his game, stick on puck, knowing when to make a play and when there isn’t a play to just get it out, he’s one of the best there is right now,” Hunter said, per the London Free Press.

“He does everything for us.”

Mete has one year of junior eligibility remaining, so it’s likely he’ll be back in London next season. At 5-foot-10 and just 180 pounds, he’s undersized and could use another year of development before turning pro.