Peter Budaj of the Canadiens makes a first-period save against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on October 28, 2013 in New York City.
Photograph by: Bruce Bennett, Getty Images
NEW YORK — Tomas Plekanec scored his sixth goal of the season on a power play at 16:34 of the second period and goaltender Peter Budaj did the rest as the Canadiens defeated the New York Rangers 2-0 in the first hockey game played in the renovated Madison Square Garden. Michael Bournival found Plekanec in the open and the veteran faked a forehand before slipping a backhander under Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. This was a night for the goalies as Budaj made 27 saves to run his season record to 2-0. Lundqvist, who returned to the lineup after missing two games with an undisclosed injury, made 25 saves.
Insurance policy: Alex Galchenyuk was credited with an insurance goal at 17:09 of the third period after Budaj made a big save on Mats Zuiccarello. Lars Eller’s pass went in off Galchenyuk’s skate. There was a review of the play, but it confirmed there was no kicking motion.
Firing blanks: The Rangers have only 15 goals in their first 10 games and have been shut out in their last three games against the Canadiens.
Saves of the night: Budaj came up big at the 13:30 mark of the second period after Chris Kreider beat Francis Bouillon to the puck to prevent an icing call. Kreider found Deerek Stepan in front of the net but Budaj made the save. The Rangers saved another icing with 1:30 to go in the second period and Budaj had to make back-to-back saves on Jesper Fast.
Specialty items: Plekanec’s power-play goal tipped the special teams’ battle in favour of the Canadiens as they scored once on six opportunities. The Rangers had five power plays and managed only four shots on net with the extra man.
The new guys: Defenceman Douglas Murray played his first game for the Canadiens and he used his size to good advantage. He played 14 minutes, had a hit and took a penalty. Louis Leblanc played his first NHL game in 18 months. He played 10 minutes, drew a penalty and had one shot on goal.
Oldies but goodies: The ceremonial faceoff was conducted by Hall of Famers Yvan Cournoyer and Rod Gilbert. They played against each other in the second hockey game — and the first between Original Six opponents — in this arena on Feb. 21, 1968. The Canadiens were 7-2 winners that night.
Opening-night glitches: Even if you’ve spent $1 billion on a facelift, there are the inevitable glitches. The scoreboard was inoperable for most of the game and, when they did get it up and running, it provided a stream of wrong information. There’s no truth to the report that it was programmed by the same folks responsible for the Obamacare website.
What’s next: The Canadiens are back home Tuesday night to face the Dallas Stars (7:30 p.m., RDS, TSN-690 Radio). The game will mark Erik Cole’s first game against the Canadiens since he was traded to the Stars earlier this year. Cole had two assists Monday night as Dallas defeated Buffalo 4-3. He has one goal and four assists in 11 games.
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