NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers were on their heels in the final minutes. Goaltender Carey Price had just left the ice for an extra skater, and there was Shea Weber at the blue line, loading the cannon for a one-timer from such a great distance that Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist would have plenty of time to react to it.
But he didn't.
Lundqvist didn't get his glove up in time, but the rocket from Weber thudded off the post and stayed out of the net. The Rangers thwarted the Montreal Canadiens from there and emerged with a hard-fought 2-1 victory in Game 4 of their first-round series at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night.
"I saw it, but still, I didn't get my arm up," Lundqvist said after the Rangers evened the best-of-seven series at 2. "There's no secret -- he has one of the hardest shots in the league. There's not many guys who can beat you from the blue line when you see it. I couldn't believe I didn't get my arm up.
"It's a good shot, but luckily it hit the post. We had that bounce we needed tonight."
The Rangers looked like a completely different team than the one that blew a two-goal lead in Game 2 and were outclassed throughout Game 3. They attacked consistently and while they sat back somewhat while protecting a one-goal lead in the third period, they did enough to force a slew of Canadiens icings while clogging the neutral zone.
After limping to 21 shots in Game 3 and 17 shots in the third period and overtime of Game 2, the Rangers poured 32 shots on Price in Game 4.
"We were trying to take what was given," said Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh, who made a great play to keep the puck in the zone and set up Rick Nash's game-winning goal early in the second period. "A lot of times in Game 2, they were on top of us. We had to chip pucks out. We got stuck in our zone. Tonight, we made a few more plays that allowed us to carry the puck. We had some zone entries and offensive-zone time in the third.
"It was a good job playing the whole game."
The Rangers started strong in Game 4 but their first goal was the result of a fortunate bounce on a seemingly harmless play. Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov skated into his own zone to retrieve a puck that was dumped in along the boards. The puck bounced off his skate and kicked right to Jesper Fast, who beat Price with a backhand between the legs to make it 1-0 at 11:39 of the first period.
Torrey Mitchell took advantage of a bad line change by the Rangers and a great play by Alexander Radulov to even the game at 1 with 1:23 left in the period. Mitchell worked a give-and-go with Weber that ended with Mitchell tapping home his first goal of the postseason.
Lundqvist made just 22 saves but he stopped a pair of breakaways in the first period from Mitchell and Andrew Shaw.
"Two of the best goalies in the league going head-to-head," Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty said. "I know that they were frustrated, especially last game. We got a little bit frustrated. The team that stays even-keeled and just worries about that next shot is the team that normally ends up on top. We've got to do a better job of sticking with it, sticking with the system, and trusting it when you're down. We need to trust that our shots will go in."
"I thought the first 10 minutes we handled it pretty well and then a couple of breakaways you wish you could have capitalized on -- at least one," Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. "In the second and third period we tried, but we weren't able to find the back of the net. Some nights you get some breaks and some nights you don't."
All four games this series have come down to which goaltender has been a little bit better. That probably won't change in Montreal on Thursday night.
"We have to bring the new momentum that we create from tonight into the next game," Nash said. "We have to play the same way and learn from our mistakes."
NOTES: The Canadiens scratched D Nikita Nesterov for the second straight game. ... Canadiens D Alexei Emelin missed his fourth straight game but could be available for Game 5 in Montreal ... The Rangers made two lineup changes. LW Pavel Buchnevich made his postseason debut, replacing LW Tanner Glass. D Nick Holden, who played the first two games of the series before being scratched for Game 3, was back for Game 4. D Kevin Klein was scratched after playing Game 3.