Armia’s 1st hat trick leads Canadiens over Rangers

Joel Armia recorded his first career hat trick and Carey Price made 28 saves as the Montreal Canadiens beat the New York Rangers 4-2 on Friday night for a split of their four-game trip.

Brendan Gallagher also scored for the Canadiens, who trailed 1-0 after the first period but rallied for their second straight win after dropping the first two games on the trip. In the mix for a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, Montreal has won four of six following an 0-3-1 slide.

Things didn’t start well for the Canadiens, as the Rangers’ Vladislav Namestnikov deflected a shot from teammate Brady Skjei past a somewhat stunned Price 4:41 into the first. New York had the better of the play early as Montreal seemed lackluster out of the gate.

The Canadiens, though, showed plenty of jump in the middle period. Gallagher evened things with his team-leading 28th goal 7:27 into the period. Then Armia gave them the lead with 5:22 left in the second, after the puck took a strange bounce off the back glass and ended up on his open stick for the conversion.

Armia then gave Montreal a needed cushion 4:29 into the third. But recently acquired Brendan Lemieux made things interesting when he got New York within one with 2:32 left in regulation. However, Armia completed the hat trick with 37 seconds to play for his 10th goal of the season and fourth in two games.

Henrik Lundqvist stopped 32 shots for the Rangers, who have dropped three in a row while in position to miss the playoffs for a second straight season.

Namestnikov has recorded five of his nine goals on the season over the last eight games. He could have had another if not for a sliding, pad save by Price on his one-timer in the second.

Montreal returns home Saturday to face the Pittsburgh Penguins in a key matchup of playoff contenders before going on a three-game trip through California. The Rangers, meanwhile, take on the Washington Capitals at home Sunday.