NEW YORK, N.Y. - In the long, storied Original Six history of the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers, the latest chapter will hardly be remembered fondly—by anyone.
The Canadiens, however, left as the happier of the teams after they rallied to gut out a 3-1 win Tuesday night that stretched Montreal's winning streak to five and ended the Rangers' run at points at five (4-0-1).
"I thought it was probably one of the worst hockey games I've been involved in. Both teams," terse Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "It was two bad teams playing, and we worse than they were.
"That pretty much sums it up, huh?"
The clubs combined for eight shots in the scoreless first period. They both mustered a goal in the second, and Montreal connected for two in the third—including an empty-netter.
Alex Galchenyuk broke the tie to put the Canadiens ahead for good. Montreal had 18 shots and made the most of little offence against Henrik Lundqvist.
"We were just really focused on getting the win," Galchenyuk said. "On the road, this was huge for us."
The Canadiens clogged up the middle to keep the Rangers from many scoring chances, either.
"It's a game of patience when you play a team like this," Lundqvist said. "They play extremely boring, but they're a smart team and they didn't give up much.
"We played a pretty good game. We just didn't come up with the big plays in the end."
The Canadiens tied it late in the second period on Max Pacioretty's goal and went ahead when Galchenyuk matched Pacioretty with his second of the season 1:48 into the third.
Carey Price was only slightly busier than Lundqvist, and made 24 saves for his third win in the Canadiens' surge. Peter Budaj won the previous two, including a 3-0 home victory over Carolina on Monday.
Raphael Diaz added an empty-net goal with 1:06 remaining for Montreal, which has outscored opponents 15-5 in its streak. The Canadiens didn't arrive in New York until the early morning hours Tuesday.
Defenceman Anton Stralman netted his second of the season in the second period, but it wasn't enough for the Rangers, who played without top-line forward Rick Nash.
Nash was ruled out about an hour before the game because of an undisclosed injury.
Brian Boyle nearly tied it with about 6 minutes left, but his short-handed chance hit the post. New York received its second power play with 3:06 left but couldn't cash in.
Despite registering only 10 shots in the first two periods, Montreal entered the third locked in a tie.
"That was a pretty gutsy road game," Price said. "Not easy to play against a team like that in their building. We played our style well.
"The first period was strange—no shots for either team for 10 minutes."
Montreal then pulled out the win in the third period.
Galchenyuk finished off a play that began with an odd-man rush. Rangers captain Ryan Callahan got back and had a chance to break it up, but couldn't. Lars Eller moved the puck down to former Rangers forward Brandon Prust near the right post, and Prust quickly got it in front to Galchenyuk, who lifted a rising shot that caromed in off the crossbar.
"Throughout the game we kept telling ourselves to be patient with it, get pucks in deep," Callahan said. "We tried to focus on not turning the puck over. Unfortunately in the third, we turn one over, got a 3-on-1 against us, and it ends up being the winner."
The Canadiens got even with 1:15 left in the second when Josh Gorges carried the puck in the Rangers end along the left-wing boards and flung a pass to the middle. Pacioretty ripped a drive from the high slot that beat Lundqvist inside the right post.
Pacioretty, who missed four games from Jan. 27-Feb. 2 because of appendicitis, scored for the second straight night. He has two goals and three assists in three games.
Stralman had given New York the lead with his second of the season, scored with 7:31 left in the second. During a delayed penalty, Derek Stepan made a pass from the left side to Stralman at the right post. The defenceman's first shot was stopped by Price's pad, but Stralman then knocked the rebound past him.
Neither the Rangers nor Canadiens showed a whole lot of drive in an uneventful first period that featured no goals, one penalty and a total of eight shots—including five by New York. Montreal didn't record its first shot of the game until only 3:49 remained in the first, when Prust pushed the puck in on Lundqvist from in-close.
"I was definitely amped up for this," said Prust, who played parts of three seasons with New York before leaving this past off-season. "Ranger fans were happy with my time here. I respect them. I heard a few cheers."
NOTES: Stralman has his two goals in a four-game span. ... Montreal has allowed five shots in the first period in each of its past three games. ... Carl Hagelin earned an assist for New York, but his four-game goal streak was snapped. ... Montreal was whistled for two penalties. The Rangers were called for one. ... Brandon Mashinter and Chris Kreider were in the New York lineup for Nash and Darroll Powe (concussion).