Brad Richards scored his fourth goal of the season and the New York Rangers rode a three-goal first period for a 5-3 victory over the visiting Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.
Erik Christensen, Dan Girardi and Michael Del Zotto all tallied in the opening frame as New York won its third in a row. Captain Ryan Callahan added an empty-netter in coach John Tortorella’s 100th win with the Rangers.
Max Pacioretty, Andrei Kostitsyn and Brian Gionta scored for the Canadiens, who had won four straight coming in since a six-game losing skid represented their worst start in 70 years.
Richards’ wrist shot past Carey Price with 1:10 left in the second put the Rangers ahead 4-2. It would stand until Gionta pulled Montreal within a goal with just under two minutes remaining in regulation.
The Canadiens were unable to get the equalizer as Callahan closed the door with his sixth of the campaign to help New York improve to 3-1-1 on its six-game homestand.
Sean Avery made his season debut with the Rangers after clearing re-entry waivers this week. The 31-year-old saw 4:46 minutes of ice time and managed one shot on goal.