Canadiens replace Emelin with Beaulieu on defense

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The Montreal Canadiens certainly hope that their notable roster change won’t be as noticeable as the New York Rangers getting Derek Stepan back, but it’s a noteworthy alteration nonetheless. They’ll see a defensive swap as Nathan Beaulieu replaces Alexei Emelin in the lineup.

Update: It appears to be an injury-related move.

The Canadiens likely hope this change isn’t noteworthy – neither player generally lights up the scoreboard, after all – but it might have a negative impact on other blueliners.

Get your game notes: Rangers at Canadiens

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Montreal Canadiens hosting the New York Rangers starting at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• Martin St. Louis scored 6:02 into overtime to give the Rangers a 3-2 victory in Game 4, and a 3-1 lead in the series. It was the winger’s fourth-career overtime winner, and his first since Game 6 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Final, when he was a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. His four OT winners are tied with 12 other players for fourth in Stanley Cup playoff history; the only players ahead of him are Joe Sakic (8), Maurice Richard (6) and Glenn Anderson (5).

• The Canadiens dug themselves a hole when they lost Games 1 and 2 at Bell Centre, as only one team, the 1944-45 Red Wings, has won a best-of-seven conference final or NHL semifinal series after losing the first two at home (17 tries). That hole got deeper after the Habs only salvaged a split at Madison Square Garden. Only one team, the 1999-2000 Devils, has won a best-of-seven conference final or NHL semifinal series when down three-games-to-one (66 tries). Montreal is 0-6 all-time when down 3-1. (Elias)

• The Stanley Cup playoffs went to four rounds in 1975. With a win tonight, the Rangers will become the first team to win a conference final or NHL semifinal series after going the distance in the first two rounds. (Los Angeles (up 3-1 vs. Chicago, Game 5 on Wednesday) can achieve the same feat in the Western Conference.) Before this season, eight teams played the maximum 14 games in Rounds 1 and 2 (and five others went the distance in shorter first-round series), but all of them lost in their conference final or NHL semifinal series.

• The Rangers lead all teams with 20 first-period goals this postseason and nine wins (9-2 record) when leading after the first period. The Rangers are 9-0 when leading at the second intermission, 2-1 when tied, and 0-6 when trailing. This series, the Rangers have scored first in three of the four games and have allowed the Canadiens to hold a lead for only 2:50 (17 seconds in Game 2 and 2:43 in Game 3).

• Tonight, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist could become the franchise’s all-time leader in career wins, passing Mike Richter (41 wins). Lundqvist, who shares the league lead in wins this postseason (11, Jonathan Quick), and leads outright in GAA (1.98) and save% (.931), has allowed two or fewer goals in a playoffs-high 14 of 18 starts. Quick is second, two or fewer GA in 10 of 18 starts.

• Dustin Tokarski, who made 26 saves in Game 4, will try to become the first Canadiens goaltender with 10 or fewer career regular-season appearances (he has 10) to help his team stave off playoff elimination since 1971. Ken Dryden (6 games) went 4-0 when facing elimination in 1971 in leading the Habs to the Stanley Cup title. The only other Montreal goalie with so little previous regular-season experience was Steve Penney (4 games), who lost Game 6 of the 1984 Eastern Conf. Final vs. N.Y. Islanders. (Elias)

• In Game 4, the Rangers allowed a third-period power-play goal to Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban after 28 consecutive kills over a 25-period span (8+ games). The Blueshirts were shorthanded eight times in Game 4 and committed nine minor penalties. In their previous 68 playoff games (since Game 4 of their 2008 Eastern Conference quarterfinal series vs. New Jersey), they only had that many minor penalties once (9, vs. New Jersey in Game 4 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Final).

• Alain Vigneault is the third Rangers head coach to win 11 or more games in one playoff year. All three won 11+ in their first seasons behind the New York bench. Fred Shero led the 1978-79 Rangers to 11 wins and a berth in the Stanley Cup Final (they lost in five games to Montreal), and Mike Keenan led the 1993-94 Rangers to 16 wins and the franchise’s only Stanley Cup title since 1940.

Rangers overcome penalty parade, beat Canadiens in OT

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Montreal Canadiens goalie Dustin Tokarski enjoyed some great moments in Game 4, including stopping Martin St. Louis with a beautiful glove save. His efforts fell short when his teammates hung him out to dry, however, including when St. Louis scored the 3-2 overtime winner.

All three of the Rangers goals came without a defenseman in front of their forwards. Carl Hagelin and Derick Brassard connected on breakaways while Hagelin found St. Louis all alone for that decisive tally. Many expected Montreal to lean on goaltending as an excuse if this series started to slip away; instead, Tokarski has been brilliant in the past two games.

With this Game 4 victory, the Rangers take a 3-1 series lead to Montreal.

Penalties galore

The Rangers found themselves in the penalty box early and often in Game 4. Through regulation, six of their seven penalties were taken in their offensive zone. Remarkably, that trend continued in overtime as Benoit Pouliot was whistled for holding the stick just 30 seconds into OT.

The Canadiens didn’t do much with their PP opportunities for much of the night, although P.K. Subban probably silenced some critics with another big goal:

Subban logged a robust 33:16 minutes of ice time in Game 4, but he couldn’t will the Habs to a 2-2 series tie.

The Madison Square Garden crowd was agitated at times on Sunday, which isn’t too surprising considering the fact that the Canadiens received eight power-play opportunities to three for New York.

Still, when you consider Carl Hagelin’s shorthanded goal, the Rangers have to at least feel good about their penalty kill. Teams don’t usually take more than twice as many penalties than they draw and come out even:

Expect plenty of discussion about officiating, embellishment and self-inflicted penalties, whether those debates take place in the comments or in post-game quotes.

An interesting goalie battle

Both goalies enjoyed some great moments, with Henrik Lundqvist robbing Brian Gionta:

Lundqvist might want one of those goals back, but he stopped 27 out of 29 shots to grab his 41st playoff win (tying the Rangers’ franchise record with Mike Richter). While the star power was on New York’s side, Tokarski acquitted himself quite nicely tonight, as you can see from the time that he bested St. Louis:

For all that’s been made about the Rangers’ advantage in net with Carey Price injured, you can make a legitimate argument that Tokarski has been just as good – if not better – than Lundqvist. Regardless, Lundqvist and the Rangers came out on top tonight and now sit one victory away from an appearance in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final.

Video: Will Tokarski’s Game 3 effort rally Montreal?

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During today’s Edward Jones Face Time live online chat with Jeremy Roenick and Don La Greca, the question was asked — will Dustin Tokarski’s 35-save effort in Game 3’s win over the Rangers (at MSG, no less) provide a rallying point for the Montreal Canadiens?

Watch below to find out what the two pundits had to say:

Click here to watch previous installments of the Face Time initiative, including chats with Anson Carter and Larry Murphy.

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.