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Rangers-Canadiens Preview

In this photo taken May 17, 2014,  Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price (31) lies on the ice after being run into by New York Rangers' Chris Kreider during the second period in Game 1 of the NHL hockey Eastern Conference final Stanley Cup playoff series Photo:

In this photo taken May 17, 2014, Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price (31) lies on the ice after being run into by New York Rangers' Chris Kreider during the second period in Game 1 of the NHL hockey Eastern Conference final Stanley Cup playoff series

The Montreal Canadiens have dominated the New York Rangers over the past six years, shutting their offense down completely more often than not.

That trend has stretched into this season, but the Rangers are facing a prime opportunity to put an end to the lopsided nature of the series.

New York has lost the last three matchups while totaling one goal, but Montreal is a much different team coming into Saturday night's meeting at the Bell Centre than it was the last time the clubs faced off.

The Canadiens (34-35-6) are 16-5-0 against the Rangers in the regular season since Jan. 23, 2010. They've posted nine shutouts in that span and limited New York to one goal seven times.

The numbers are even worse for the Rangers at Montreal in that time, as the Canadiens have gone 10-1-0 with seven shutouts. New York has been outscored 32-5 in those games.

Montreal posted its second straight shutout in the series in the first meeting of the season Oct. 15 at home, then routed New York 5-1 at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 25.

Those games, however, were part of the Canadiens' 19-4-3 start that's a distant memory. Montreal's stunning collapse and fall from playoff contention has shown no signs of abating, as it lost for the fifth time in seven games and ninth in 13 on Thursday, 4-3 at Detroit.

The team that's made blanking the Rangers look easy in recent years has given up 3.20 goals per game since Dec. 2, easily the worst mark in the league.

Montreal has allowed 34.9 shots on goal in 17 games since Feb. 19, also highest in the league in that span, and it's been particularly bad lately. The Canadiens have given up 40 or more three times in the past five contests.

Ben Scrivens started all of those, and he'll get a break after facing 40 shots against the Red Wings with rookie Mike Condon getting the nod Saturday. Condon and Scrivens have struggled to fill the void in what should be the Rangers' biggest advantage in this matchup - the absence of reigning Hart and Vezina Trophy winner Carey Price, out four months with a lower-body injury.

"Obviously we don't give up on each other," Scrivens told the team's official website Thursday. "We had a tough second period as a group, but we showed some backbone in the third. We came up a bit short in the end, but I think we can all look at the guy next to us and know that he battled. No one packed it in, and that's an important thing for this group."

Montreal All-Star defenseman P.K. Subban, who missed his seventh straight game with a neck injury, said he probably won't play Saturday.

That should be more good news for New York (42-24-8), which has put together impressive efforts in its last two games, beating Florida and Boston by a combined 9-4. The Rangers, in second place in the Metropolitan Division, are four points up on Pittsburgh and also trying to hold off the Islanders.

Henrik Lundqvist made 39 saves as the Rangers topped the Bruins on Wednesday, bouncing back after dropping the last two games of their three-game California swing.

"Great to see how we responded after the long trip, coming home from out West is not always easy," Lundqvist told the team's website. "I think we all understood the seriousness of the situation right now and we need the points."

With New York opening a back-to-back that includes a home matchup against the Penguins on Sunday, Antti Raanta will start this game with Lundqvist expected to face Pittsburgh.

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