Max Pacioretty

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Canadiens sound a lot like Wild after playoff exit (without ‘better team’ talk)

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Much like the Minnesota Wild earlier on Saturday, the Montreal Canadiens are stunned to approach the golf courses so rapidly.

Many of the responses after the New York Rangers eliminated them in Game 6 sound a lot like what the Wild uttered, though there’s no potential bulletin board material like Bruce Boudreau’s line about the better team failing to win four games.

Max Pacioretty viewed this early exit as a “missed opportunity” and never really believed that an elimination was coming.

Claude Julien provided parallel comments to Bruce Boudreau, believing that Montreal generated chances but lacked “finish.”

Brendan Gallagher? He worries that this might have been the Canadiens’ best chance, something the Wild must also worry about with a difficult offseason ahead.

Now, it’s likely that most teams speak about being shocked and expecting better after being booted from the postseason.

Still, these reactions do shine a light on the staggering nature of some of these exits. Will the likes of the Blackhawks, Canadiens and Wild struggle to be in such prime positions in the future? With the Sharks needing a comeback against the Oilers, could the trend continue on Saturday?

The bottom line is that, instead of preparing for a Game 7 after winning the Atlantic Division, the Canadiens are packing up their stuff and worrying about re-signing Carey Price. That’s a pretty stunning turnaround, regardless of the soundbytes available.

Lundqvist bests Price as Rangers knock Canadiens out in Game 6

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It looks like Henrik Lundqvist is still “the king.”

Lundqvist and the New York Rangers bested the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 in Game 6, winning the series 4-2 to chants of “Hen-rik!” at Madison Square Garden.

Specifically in Game 6, the Canadiens went up 1-0 in the opening frame, only to see Mats Zuccarello score two goals in the pivotal second period to score what New York needed to win. Derek Stepan‘s empty-netter iced it in the end.

Much has been made of the way the Rangers play the game, with defensive liabilities (ideally) masked by transitional passing and transcendent goaltending. It worked out that way in this series.

Carey Price wasn’t bad by any stretch, even if he’d like a goal back here or there, such as Mats Zuccarello’s 1-1 tally from Game 6.

While the Habs enjoyed strong play from Alex Radulov, other big names sputtered, particularly with Max Pacioretty failing to score a goal during the series. Even with a new head coach in Claude Julien behind the bench, the Canadiens finish the season with heartache.

It’s yet another example of a top-ranked team getting bounced from the playoffs, as Montreal joins the Central Division-winning Blackhawks and that division’s second seed in Minnesota on the sidelines.

The Rangers haven’t always done it in the prettiest fashion, but they’re a dangerous team, something made that much clearer on Saturday. They await the winner of the Ottawa Senators – Boston Bruins series and rest up for what they hope is another deep run.

If his work against Montreal is any indication, Lundqvist is ready.

Video: Pacioretty fights Vesey; bad blood continues between Rangers, Habs

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When you need to win a big game, sometimes it comes down to scoring goals. Sometimes it helps to be a little nasty.

So far, the Montreal Canadiens are marking off a little from Column A and a little from Column B in Game 6 at Madison Square Garden.

The vitriol continues between the Habs and New York Rangers, as an Alex Radulov snow-shower on Henrik Lundqvist inspired some violence, including a pretty solid bout between Max Pacioretty and Jimmy Vesey.

Not long after, the Canadiens went up 1-0 as they hope to avoid elimination on Saturday night.

Again, so far so good for the Habs … if not so nice.

All of a sudden the Habs are in a tough spot

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It is not lost on the city of Montreal that P.K. Subban and the Nashville Predators just swept the Chicago Blackhawks, while the Canadiens are now one loss away from falling to the New York Rangers.

Nor is it lost on the city of Montreal that Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty — the same guy who had to deny a rift with Subban when they were still teammates, and the same guy who some say pushed for Subban to get traded — has yet to score a goal in these playoffs.

The optics are not great, to say the least. In Montreal, emotions tend to run high when it comes to hockey. And it’s safe to say that if the Canadiens don’t come back to win this series, the fans and the media are going to tee off on this organization.

Watch Rangers vs Canadiens Game 6

“We’re going to learn what type of character we have,” said winger Brendan Gallagher, per Sportsnet. “If you don’t have character, this is the time you’re going to doubt yourself. If you do have character, this is the time where the belief is going to come out.”

Character, you’ll recall, was one of the justifications for trading Subban to Nashville for Shea Weber.

In remarks that sure seemed like a partial rebuke of Subban, Habs GM Marc Bergevin called Weber a “tremendous leader” and a “complete and reliable defenseman.”

“He’s won two Olympic gold medals and he’s a guy who, like Carey Price, has a presence that right away brings credibility to your team,” said Bergevin. “He’ll be a great complement to our captain, Max Pacioretty, and to our leadership group.”

The Canadiens looked to have the Rangers beat after Game 3, a convincing Montreal victory at MSG. But New York bounced back in Game 4, then took Game 5 in overtime at Bell Centre for a 3-2 series lead.

“In order to get through this, we’ll need more from a lot of guys,” Habs coach Claude Julien told reporters. “It’s time for certain players to elevate their game and have that confidence and desire to be better.

Game 6 goes Saturday in New York at 8 p.m. ET on NBC and the NBC Sports app.

Rangers win OT thriller, put Habs on brink of elimination

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The New York Rangers will head back to Madison Square Garden for Game 6 of their first round series with the opportunity to eliminate the Montreal Canadiens.

Mika Zibanejad scored the winner, capping off an overtime period in which the Rangers previously had numerous chances but either couldn’t beat Carey Price or couldn’t control loose pucks amidst the chaos in front of the Habs net.

But in the end, Zibanejad capitalized and New York took an emotionally charged — dirty at times — Game 5 by a final score of 3-2.

The Habs, who received an inspired performance from Brendan Gallagher, who scored and had four hits and five shots on goal, had the lead late in the second period but couldn’t maintain it.

Brady Skjei scored the tying goal with 1:32 left in the second period and the Habs managed only 10 shots on goal in the third period and OT.

While he wasn’t as busy in the second half of the game, credit also has to go to Henrik Lundqvist.

In another epic battle between the goalies, Lundqvist made a huge pad save while facing Max Pacioretty on a third-period breakaway and the game tied.

And when overtime began, it was the Rangers controlling the pace.

Game 6 goes Saturday in New York.