Peter Budaj made 27 saves for his 11th career NHL shutout, while Tomas Plekanec and Alex Galchenyuk provided the scoring as the Montreal Canadiens spoiled the Rangers’ long-awaited homecoming with a 2-0 victory.
“I think we did a lot of good things,” said New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who made 25 saves after a two-game injury absence. “We just hoped for an early goal for us to get the energy and confidence, and get the building going. It was a disappointing loss, but it was great to be back.”
In Monday’s other games, the Dallas Stars edged the Buffalo Sabres 4-3, the Pittsburg Penguins had a 3-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes, the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Minnesota Wild 5-1 and the Vancouver Canucks extended their winning streak to four games after beating the Washington Capitals 3-2.
Much of Monday’s attention was on the refurbished Madison Square Garden, where the Rangers were back in town after nine games on the road.
Lundqvist was outshone by Budaj, the Canadiens’ 31-year-old backup to Carey Price.
Plekanec scored the go-ahead goal on a power play in the second period and Budaj made it stand up for Montreal, who had lost three of four since a four-game winning streak.
Galchenyuk scored his second of the season with 2 minutes, 51 seconds left with a goal that stood up to a video review. It was scored just moments after Budaj blocked an in-close chance for Mats Zuccarello.
“If that’s not a kick, I don’t know what a kick is,” an aggravated Lundqvist said. “It’s just a frustrating goal there that kind of kills the whole game.”
New York ended their season-opening road trip last weekend with a stirring 3-2 overtime win in Detroit, Michigan, but even with a healthy Lundqvist the Rangers could not build off that momentum.
“Guys were so excited. There was a definite energy,” forward Chris Kreider said. “The effort was there — the same effort as Detroit, if not more. We learned from that game and we got better, but we didn’t get the result we wanted. So go back to the drawing board.”
In Buffalo, New York, Tyler Seguin capped a three-goal, first-period outburst as the Stars hung on to deliver coach Lindy Ruff a win in his homecoming against the Sabres.
Jamie Benn, Alex Goligoski and Vernon Fiddler also scored in a game in which the Stars nearly squandered a 4-1 lead against the NHL’s worst team.
Matt Moulson nearly spoiled Ruff’s return by scoring two goals on his Sabres debut, a day after being acquired in a trade that sent Thomas Vanek to the New York Islanders.
The Penguins ended a three-game losing stretch with the victory over the Hurricanes, with rookie Jayson Megna notching his first career goal and assist.
In Vancouver, Daniel Sedin scored the game-winner in the third period and added an assist for the Canucks.
Zack Kassian and Ryan Kesler also scored for Vancouver, who played at Rogers Arena for the first time since Oct. 12 after a seven-game trip.
Henrik Sedin added an assist to extend his point streak to nine games. Roberto Luongo made 17 saves for the Canucks.
Jason Chimera, with a goal and an assist, and Mikhail Grabovski scored for Washington, who got 38 saves from Michal Neuvirth.