Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the New York Rangers hosting the Montreal Canadiens starting at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:
• Tonight, the Eastern Conference final shifts to Madison Square Garden with the Rangers looking to take a 3- games-to-none lead over the Canadiens. Only one team in NHL history (1944-45 Red Wings) has ever won a best-of-7 NHL semifinal after dropping the first two games on home ice (16 others have gone on to lose the series, six of them in a sweep). In all, NHL teams have trailed 2-0 in a best-of-7 series a total of 322 times and have come back to win the series on 44 occasions (13.7%); teams have won 18 out of 81 series (22.2%) when losing the first two at home. In the 2014 playoffs, teams trailing 2-0 have come back to win three out of seven series (42.9%). The Rangers are 10-2 all-time in series when they win the first two games.
• The Rangers come into tonight having won their last five games by a combined score of 20-6. The five-game win streak is the team’s longest in the postseason since the Rangers won their first seven games of the 1994 playoffs (vs. NY Islanders and Washington) en route to the club’s first Stanley Cup championship in 54 years.
• Dating to the opening round of the 1996 playoffs, the Rangers have defeated the Canadiens in six straight playoff games, becoming only the fourth team to defeat Montreal in six straight in the postseason. The Canadiens have never lost seven straight playoff games to any team during their 105-year history.
• Since snapping an 0-for-36 stretch with a man-advantage in Game 5 vs. Pittsburgh (Chris Kreider), the Rangers’ power play has caught fire, going 7-for-21 over the past five games. However, New York has not scored a powerplay goal on home ice since Benoit Pouliot’s in Game 2 of the first round vs. Philadelphia, and is 0-for-21 since.
• New York has thrived on the penalty kill as well, killing off all 20 penalties over the last seven games, including a perfect 7-for-7 in the two games against Montreal. At 8.4 penalty minutes per game, the Rangers and Detroit have been the least-penalized teams in the 2014 playoffs. Montreal, meanwhile, has allowed at least one power-play goal in four of its last five games, going 13-for-20 (65.0%) on penalty kills during that span.
• Henrik Lundqvist, who will make his 84th consecutive playoff start for the Rangers tonight, has allowed six goals during his five-game win streak, for a 1.20 GAA and .964 save% during the stretch. Lundqvist’s victory in Game 2 was his league-leading 10th of the 2014 postseason – matching Lundqvist’s career high from 2012 – and 40th of his playoff career (40-43 record); with his next victory, Lundqvist would match Mike Richter (41-33) as the all-time winningest goaltender in Rangers playoff history.
• Montreal goaltender Dustin Tokarski will make his second career playoff start after allowing three goals on 30 shots on Monday, when he became the first goalie to make his playoff debut with a start in the conference final or Stanley Cup Final since the NHL expanded to four playoff rounds in 1975. Tokarski is the third Montreal goaltender to play in this series; each has allowed at least three goals in his lone appearance in the series (Carey Price 4 GA, Peter Budaj 3 GA in Game 1). The 1984 Jets (first round vs. Edmonton) are the only other team to have three goalies allow three-plus goals in a game over the first two games of a playoff series. (Elias Sports Bureau)
• Defenseman P.K. Subban leads the Canadiens with 12 points (4-8=12), but has yet to make the scoresheet in this series, in which he has a minus-3 rating, and has no points in his last four games overall. In Game 2, Subban attempted 18 shots: six were blocked by Rangers skaters, three missed the net and nine were stopped by Lundqvist, matching Subban’s career high for shots on goal in a game (reg. season or playoffs). Subban played 29:40 of Game 2, the second-highest total of his career in a 60-minute game (he played 30:33 on Jan. 18, a 5-3 loss at Toronto).