Habs try to keep grip on 1st place, extend home streak over Rangers

Looking to pad their lead atop the Northeast Division, the Montreal Canadiens aim to extend a seven-game home winning streak over the New York Rangers as the two clubs meet on Saturday evening.

After losing back-to-back games in regulation for the first time this season, the Canadiens bounced back on Wednesday night with a 6-5 shootout win over the Boston Bruins. Montreal blew a two-goal lead by giving up four straight goals in the second period, but rallied from deficits of 4-2 and 5-3 to force overtime.

Brendan Gallagher got the comeback started with his 10th goal of the season with 7:42 to play in regulation, while Andrei Markov scored a power-play goal with just 8.2 seconds left. Gallagher then scored the only goal of the six- round shootout as Peter Budaj stopped all six skaters faced.

"When you get down two goals twice and come back (with) two goals you show that you have a lot of character as a team," Gallagher said. "It's great to see it."

Budaj made 14 saves in relief of Carey Price, who was pulled after allowing four goals on 26 shots through the first two periods.

Michael Ryder scored twice, P.K. Subban had a goal and Tomas Plekanec added three assists as the Habs moved a point ahead of the Bruins for first place in the division and the second seed in the Eastern Conference. Boston does have a game in hand and visits the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.

Prior to the consecutive regulation losses, Montreal went 14-1-4 in its previous 19 and that span included a 3-0 home victory over New York on Feb. 23. Price made 17 saves in the shutout to push the Canadiens' home winning streak over the Rangers to seven straight. Montreal is also 9-0-1 in its past 10 at home in this series.

New York has not won in Montreal since a shootout victory on March 17, 2009 and not in regulation since Feb. 3, 2008.

The Habs have outscored the Rangers 6-1 in taking the first two meetings overall this season and have won nine of their last 12 in this series.

New York will try to snap its road slide in Montreal and pick up two big points after a 3-0 loss in Ottawa on Thursday. The Rangers fell into a tie with the New York Islanders for the eighth spot in the East with 35 points, three back of the seventh-place New Jersey Devils.

Henrik Lundqvist did not allow a goal in the Rangers' third loss in four games until yielding a power-play tally with 49 seconds left in the second period. He made 26 saves in all.

New York was coming off a 5-2 win over Philadelphia on Tuesday, but went 0- for-4 on the power play.

"I just don't like our 40 minutes," said Rangers coach John Tortorella on the team's performance in the first two periods. "I'm just a little frustrated with that after playing the way we did in Philly and not generating any offense until the third period."

New York was held to a pair of goals or fewer for the seventh time in the past nine games and is just 2-for-21 on the man advantage over that span.

Montreal's Brandon Prust, who spent the previous two-plus seasons with the Rangers, has missed the past eight games with a shoulder injury but practiced in full on Friday and could return to the lineup tonight.

The feisty winger has logged four goals and nine points in 25 games this season along with a team-high 81 penalty minutes and plus-13 rating.