Gionta lifts Habs over Rangers with OT penalty shot
The Canadiens and Rangers ended their regular seasons with an overtime game settled by a penalty shot.
Now it’s time to start looking toward the playoffs and the real excitement to start.
Brian Gionta scored on a penalty shot at 2:04 of overtime to give the Montreal a 1-0 victory over New York on Saturday night.
Carey Price made 41 saves as Montreal finished with 100 points and moved past Tampa Bay for second place in the Atlantic Division.
"We’re definitely proud of our season," said Price. "We put lot of effort in all year long.
"We stayed fairly consistent all year. And now the fun begins."
The Lightning can still claim home ice advantage for their first round playoff meeting versus Montreal with a victory on their final game Sunday against Washington.
Price and his teammates expect to watch the game, but won’t be upset if the Lightning win or lose.
"I think we’re pretty comfortable no matter where we’re playing," Price said. "Obviously, we’d like to play here in front of our home crowd, but we’re comfortable playing in any rink."
The Rangers knew before the game they would have home ice for the first round against Philadelphia. They rested some veterans, including Martin St. Louis, but still had the better of the play for two periods as they outshot Montreal 39-25 in regulation time and 41-27 overall.
"We didn’t mail it in," New York’s Brad Richards said. "We could have won the game. But to be honest with you, we’re going to turn this page. We’re excited to get this week going."
Gionta was awarded the shot after he poked the puck away from Raphael Diaz and then was tripped by the defenseman on a breakaway. He deked to the backhand to beat Cam Talbot on the shot.
"It’s something I go to a lot on penalty shots or shootouts," said Gionta. "He’s a good young goalie. He holds his ground well. He played well against us."
Coach Michel Therrien was beaming after the game.
"It doesn’t happen often that your regular season ends on a penalty shot," he said. "Gionta’s our captain, our leader, our unsung hero. It couldn’t finish on a better note."
Talbot also shut out the Canadiens the first time he faced them in November.
"Our goaltender gave us a chance," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "This game didn’t mean anything for us at the end of the day, but we talked about coming here and playing well.
"That’s what I thought we did tonight."
The Rangers owned the opening period, building a 10-2 shot advantage by the 10-minute mark, but couldn’t get one past Price.
The Canadiens woke up in the second, but Price needed to be even better to keep the Rangers from scoring. He got help from his posts as Derek Dorsett hit one after Price played the puck up the middle, and Diaz hit both posts with a blast off a rush down the right side.
Notes: Lars Eller missed a third game with a flu for Montreal, while Douglas Murray, Jarred Tinordi and George Parros sat out. . . New York rested veterans Martin St. Louis and Ryan McDonagh. Dan Girardi, Chris Kreider and Ryan Haggerty were also out of the lineup.