MONTREAL (AP)Filip Chytil had two goals and the New York Rangers scored three times in less than six minutes during the second period to beat the skidding Montreal Canadiens 4-1 on Thursday night.
Chris Kreider had a short-handed goal and defenseman Braden Schneider also scored for the surging Rangers, who won their third straight and improved to 11-2-1 in their past 14 games. Jaroslav Halak made 17 saves.
Montreal has lost seven in a row and 10 of 11.
”We don’t really worry about the team we play against,” New York coach Gerard Gallant said. ”They came out and they clogged the middle of the neutral zone really well. Fortunately for us, we got that first goal and that was big.”
Jake Allen stopped 27 of 30 shots for the Canadiens. Joel Armia scored his first goal of the season 14:46 into the third.
”It’s a weight lifted off the shoulders, for sure,” Armia said. ”I know I haven’t been performing at my best and I’ve been trying to fix it, but you get a goal and do it again next game.”
After a scoreless opening period that included a total of 10 shots between the teams, Kreider broke the ice 7:43 into the second.
Montreal’s bottom-ranked power play continued to struggle when an errant pass from Juraj Slafkovsky was intercepted by Kreider, who made no mistake converting the breakaway.
”It was a bit of a slow start with not many shots either way. It may be easier to get up for Carolina and sometimes harder for (Montreal),” Schneider said. ”Can’t take them lightly, though.”
Schneider doubled the lead at 12:28 with a point shot into the top corner of the net.
New York made it 3-0 just 59 seconds later on Chytil’s shot off a pass from Ryan Lindgren.
”We knew they like to clog the center of the ice, so quick movement was the key,” Schneider said. ”We’ve got a lot of talent and people that can do some pretty special things with the puck.”
Montreal came out firing in the third period, creating a handful of strong chances early to no avail.
The Canadiens finally ended Halak’s shutout bid when Armia hopped on a bouncing puck in the slot with 5:14 remaining.
Chytil sealed it with his 11th goal, an empty-netter on the power play with 1:10 left.
”There’s a lot that goes into being hard to play against and I think that today was a lot better,” Canadiens forward Jake Evans said. ”The scores are the only similarity (to last season), but everyone is so driven to fix this.”
Canadiens center Nick Suzuki was selected to his second All-Star team. The 23-year-old Suzuki will play for the Atlantic Division squad. He has 32 points (15 goals, 17 assists) in 38 games this season.
Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin was chosen in the Metropolitan Division.
GALLAGHER STILL OUT
A Canadiens team desperately lacking veteran leadership was without one of its most senior players: Brendan Gallagher sat out with a lower-body injury. The winger has missed 14 of the club’s 39 games.
SPECIAL TEAMS WOES
Montreal’s 32nd-ranked power play failed to convert on its lone opportunity but conceded its first short-handed goal of the season. The Canadiens have failed to score on nine of their last 10 power plays.
Rangers: At the New Jersey Devils on Saturday afternoon.
Canadiens: Host the St. Louis Blues in the second game of a four-game homestand Saturday night.
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