Rangers vowing not to overlook woeful Canadiens


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Within a 48-hour span, the Rangers will go from facing the NHL’s hottest team — the Hurricanes — to one that has struggled to string together points recently.

The Canadiens, who the Rangers will play Thursday night at Bell Centre, have won one of their last 10 games and sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic Division. They’ve allowed 22 goals across the last three games, including nine against the Capitals and seven against the Panthers.

But that’s exactly what head coach Gerard Gallant — and other Blueshirts — is “worried about.” The Rangers already have lost to teams such as the Sharks, Blackhawks and Blue Jackets that sit near the bottom of their respective divisions, and Gallant said he expects Montreal will return home from its seven-game road trip and “be ready to play.”

“When you get embarrassed on the road, you’re gonna come home and you’re gonna be ready to play that home game,” Gallant said.

Gerard Gallant

Gallant added that the Canadiens have talented forwards and a young blueline, and the group coached by Martin St. Louis won’t “roll over because you had a tough road trip.” Instead, the Rangers need the same intensity that helped them manufacture a three-goal third period and topple the Hurricanes “every single night,” center Vincent Trocheck said.

“It doesn’t matter if a team’s on a heater like Carolina or a team that’s struggling,” winger Chris Kreider said. “Every team’s good. Every team’s got high-end skill. We’ve got to play the same way regardless of the context.”

Gallant swapped centers Filip Chytil and Barclay Goodrow mid-game Tuesday from their spots on the third and fourth lines, respectively, because he didn’t like how the Hurricanes regained the lead moments after the Rangers tied it — and did so twice.

Martin Necas responded 16 seconds after Jacob Trouba evened the game at 1 apiece in the first period. Then, late in the second frame, Jalen Chatfield fired a shot toward the Rangers’ net that deflected off Chytil’s outstretched stick and past goalie Igor Shesterkin.

Gallant said he didn’t want to assign blame to one specific player, but the second goal came less than 30 seconds after the Blueshirts had knotted the game at 2. That’s what frustrated the 59-year-old head coach. He made the switch because Goodrow is a “dependable player” who could play anywhere.

Gallant said Chytil was sick during the team’s trip to Florida last weekend and “looked like he didn’t have a whole lot of energy.” But overall, he added, the 23-year-old former first-round selection has been “playing good hockey all year.” Gallant expects Chytil, who scored an empty-net goal in the final two minutes of regulation, to return to his spot in the lineup.

“I wanted to go to three lines in the third period because the first five minutes was good,” Gallant said, “and I kept it that way.”

The Rangers held an optional practice Wednesday ahead of their trip to Montreal. Chytil, Trouba, Artemi Panarin, K’Andre Miller, Vitali Kravtsov and Mika Zibanejad weren’t spotted on the ice.

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