Rangers look to snap skid in Montreal

The Bell Centre has been a house of horrors for the Rangers in recent years. Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- It was more than three years before Brad Richards arrived in New York as a marquee free agent, and still he has heard the stories from that fateful night in Montreal back in February 2008.

The Rangers blew a 5-0 lead and ended up humiliated in a record-setting 6-5 shootout loss to the Canadiens.

There hasn’t been a defeat quite on par with that since, but the Bell Centre hasn’t been any more welcoming to the Rangers in recent years.

The team has won just one of 11 games there since and has been shut out five times during that span. Winless in eight straight games in Montreal, the Rangers hope to change their luck there Saturday night.

Brad Richards

Brad Richards

#19 C
New York Rangers

2014 STATS

  • GM18
  • G6

  • A9

  • PTS15

  • +/-5

  • PIM8

“I love playing there but I know the history of this team, before I got there and I guess even the couple of times we’ve played with me, it hasn’t gone well,” said Richards.

The team has to strike that from its collective consciousness, the veteran center said, and bring that era to a close.

“It could be all coincidence,” Richards said. “I wasn’t here for some of those games ... but I don’t know if it hangs over the organization or just a group of players. I don’t know how it all works, but hopefully we end that tomorrow.”

Saturday’s lineup will have a different look than the one in Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the Devils.

The Rangers will scratch Michael Del Zotto for the second time this season and opt for the more physical Justin Falk.

The 23-year-old Del Zotto has struggled at points this season and wasn’t entirely surprised to find out he would be out of the lineup when he came to the rink Friday.

“My minutes have gone down the last couple of games,” Del Zotto told ESPNNewYork.com. “I didn’t know it was gonna happen today, but I’ll take a positive approach every time, try to get better and work hard in practice and continue tomorrow.”

Del Zotto said he wasn’t given a definitive reason, just told that he was out.

Dominic Moore, who is ready to return from a strained oblique that has sidelined him since Oct. 29, replaced Brandon Mashinter in the lineup.

And considering the back-to-back games with Sunday’s match against the L.A. Kings at Madison Square Garden, backup netminder Cam Talbot gets the start in goal against the Habs.

Talbot has been impressive in his four starts this season, with a 3-1-0 record, a 1.97 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage. The 26-year-old native of Caledonia, Ontario, who grew up idolizing former Habs goalie Patrick Roy, is eager to play in the famed venue for the first time in his NHL career.

Talbot said he expects a “great atmosphere” and hopes to set the team in a new direction with a win in the hostile building.

“You just want to keep looking forward and maybe start a new streak of your own,” Talbot said. “We have to come out flying. We know they’re going to come out pretty hot in their own building, so we’ve got to match their intensity and their tempo and weather the storm for the first five minutes.”