NEW YORK — Chris Kreider had another goal, Kaapo Kakko scored for the second straight game, and the New York Rangers beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 Tuesday night for their fourth straight win.
Julien Gauthier also scored and Igor Shesterkin made 31 saves to help the Rangers beat the Canadiens for the fourth time in five meetings. New York also won at Montreal on Oct. 16, spoiling the Canadiens’ home opener.
“The team is getting together, knowing each other pretty well now,'' Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “It's just clicking right now. I thought we played a real good game tonight."
Christian Dvorak and Josh Anderson scored for Montreal, which fell to 1-7-1 on the road. Cayden Primeau had 31 saves in his first start of the season.
“Unfortunately we didn't get the win like we wanted,'' Primeau said. ”You soak up the opportunity when it's presented. It’s special to play in such an historic rink."
Kakko, pointless in his first 10 games this season, opened the scoring with 4:14 left in the first period. The 20-year-old Finnish forward took a slick pass from Artemi Panarin then deposited the puck past Primeau.
“The whole team is playing great right now and we are winning games,'' Kakko said. ”We're playing good in the o-zone."
The Rangers were coming off a 4-3 shootout win over the Devils on Sunday night in which Kakko had a goal and an assist. Kakko said after that victory he hoped his scoring touch would re-emerge. He had nine goals in 48 games last season after scoring 10 times in his rookie season.
After Dvorak tied it at 2:17 of the second with his second goal of the season, Kreider put the Rangers ahead with his team-leading 12th at 3:50 after accepting a perfect cross-ice pass from Mika Zibanejad.
“That line is playing well and Kreids seems to be around the net a lot,'' Gallant added. ”When you've got a player like Zibanejad who can make those passes to him and Kreids keeps doing what he does, he's going to get a lot of goals this year."
Gauthier made it 3-1 with his first goal of the season at 1:56 of the third but Anderson answered 22 seconds later with his fourth to again make it a one-goal game.
“He's forechecking better and skating really well,'' Gallant said of Gauthier, a former first-round draft pick by Carolina who has struggling to find his scoring touch. ”He scored a great goal by working hard. I really like his game."
Primeau was solid in the early going. A seventh-round pick by the Canadiens in 2017, the 22-year-old was recalled from AHL Laval after starter Jake Allen was injured against Detroit last Saturday. His best save came on point-blank chance by Kreider midway through the first during 4-on-4 play.
Primeau also denied Filip Chytil — back after missing three games with an upper body injury — in front about 14 minutes into the opening period during which the Rangers outshot the Canadiens 17-12.
“He was solid, confident and made some big saves,'' Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme said of his young netminder. ”It's good to see a young player come in and play like that."
The Canadiens' fell to 4-12-2 on the season, months after reaching the Stanley Cup Finals. Montreal ousted Toronto, Winnipeg and Vegas before losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Finals in five games.
This season they are without All-Star goalie Carey Price (treatment for substance abuse), injured defensemen Shea Weber and Joel Edmundson and productive forwards Phillip Danault, Corey Perry and Tomas Tatar who left as free agents. In addition, last spring’s rookie playoff scoring sensation Cole Caufield struggled early and was sent to AHL Laval.
The victory was the 200th all-time by the Rangers over the Canadiens in regular-season play. The Rangers are 200-335-94-5 in 634 games against Montreal, their second-most-played opponent behind Boston (660) in franchise history.
NOTES: With news earlier Tuesday that Rangers forward Sammy Blais would be lost for the season with a torn ACL suffered Sunday against the Devils, Barclay Goodrow was moved up to right wing on the top line with Zibanejad and Kreider … The Rangers scratched defensemen Jarred Tinordi and Libor Hajek plus forward Greg McKegg … Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin returned after missing six games with headaches after he was struck in the head by a puck Nov. 2 against Detroit ... Montreal scratched defensemen Sami Niku and Mattias Norlinder while Allen didn’t dress for the contest.
Canadiens: Host Pittsburgh on Thursday night.
Rangers: At Toronto on Thursday night.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Allan Kreda, The Associated Press