Skjei, Zibanejad and Lundqvist lead Rangers past Canadiens
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By SCOTT CHARLES
NEW YORK (AP) Henrik Lundqvist bounced back after getting roughed up the previous night and helped the New York Rangers get their first win of the season.
The veteran goalie stopped 34 shots for his 62nd career shutout to lead the Rangers to a 2-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday night.
Lundqvist was stellar in getting his 406th career win one night after getting pulled after giving up five goals in the first period of an 8-5 loss at Toronto. He is now one away from tying Glenn Hall for ninth place on the NHL's career wins list.
"I felt like we played more our style where it's more in control and we use our speed when there's an opportunity for it," Lundqvist said. "And for me, every period a couple extra saves were enough. It was not like I needed to make eight, nine big ones. It was a couple extra here and there, and the rest, the guys took care of it. It was a great team win here tonight and a great bounce back for us."
Brady Skjei scored on a fortunate bounce in the first period and Mika Zibanejad got his fourth of the season in the third to help the Rangers improve to 41-12-4 in games following a loss dating back to Dec. 22, 2015.
"When we made some mistakes, Hank came up with the right saves at the right time," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "That's what we need from our goaltender, that's what we needed from our team."
Montreal had two goals disallowed earlier in the opening period. The first was taken away after a video review when officials determined forward Andrew Shaw kicked the puck into the net 6:24 into the game. Just more than 2 1/2 minutes later, Vigneault challenged another Montreal score for goaltender interference and officials determined Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty made contact with Lundqvist on the play.
"The positive thing is we had chances," Montreal's Tomas Plekanec said. "We had some pressure going. We have to find ways to get results. We have to keep working at it."
Skjei tossed the puck to the front of the net and it deflected off Montreal defenseman Shea Weber's skate and in with 2:35 left in the first period, giving the Rangers a lead for the first time this season.
Zibanejad scored for the third straight game near the midpoint of the third period to double the Rangers' lead. Pavel Buchnevich and Chris Kreider assisted on the play, giving New York's top line four goals and five assists through three games this season.
"I try to shoot and the puck seems to go in right now," Zibanejad said. "I just am trying to place myself in a good spot out there and the guys are finding me and the puck seems to be going in. That's just the mentality. You just have to keep shooting when you are hot, I guess."
Vigneault was all praises for the way Zibanejad - signed to a five-year, $26.75 million deal in the offseason - has been playing at the start of the season.
"There is no doubt that Mika knew that we put a lot of faith into his play, we signed him to a long-term deal and we expected him to be an impact player on our team," the coach said. "The way he started is the way he has to continue. He has to continue to be a force on the ice, a difference-maker."
Carey Price finished with 23 saves for the Canadiens, who have lost two straight after a shootout win at Buffalo in their opener.
"We felt we played well," Montreal's coach Claude Julien said. "We need to find ways to finish better. We spent a lot of time in the other team's zone. Our next step is to find ways to capitalize on opportunities."
The teams were meeting for the first time since the Rangers eliminated the Canadiens in six games in the first round of the playoffs in April.
NOTES: F Filip Chytil and D Brendan Smith were both scratched for the first time this season while D Nick Holden and D Steven Kampfer made their season debuts. ... F Jesper Fast traveled with the team to Toronto this past Saturday and has been a full participant in practice recently. The Swedish winger had offseason surgery on his left hip and is expected to return to the lineup before the end of October. ... D Mark Streit, D Joe Morrow, F Ales Hemsky were scratched for Montreal. ... Karl Alzner skated in his 543rd consecutive NHL game, the fifth longest streak among active NHL players and 17th longest in NHL history. . Torrey Mitchell and Brandon Davidson made their season debuts for Montreal.
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Updated October 8, 2017