NEW YORK -- Paul Mara didn't even have time to take his coat off before his new team welcomed him with a key victory.
The newest Ranger smiled in the victorious dressing room Tuesday night after New York's solid 4-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Mara was acquired from Boston just before the trade deadline hours earlier and arrived in time to watch the third period.
We don't care what you say; it's still special when one "original-six" team shuts out another -- especially when the team getting blanked is hockey's premier franchise, the Canadiens.
And so the Rangers' 4-0 victory was indeed special. You have to go back more than 16 years, to Oct. 12, 1990, to find the last regular-season whitewash by the Rangers over Montreal (John Vanbiesbrouck in goal); then you go back another 20 years until you find another one, on Oct. 18, 1970 (Ed Giacomin in goal).
New York broke a tie with Boston and inched closer in the race for the postseason by shutting out the Canadiens for the first time since Oct. 12, 1990.
"The Rangers are two points ahead. That's a good thing," Mara said. "We're all battling right now for those final two playoff spots and I'm just looking forward to helping this team get in."
Marcel Hossa scored two more goals, Henrik Lundqvist made 19 saves in his third shutout this season and fifth in two seasons, and the Rangers shook off trades and injuries to beat the Canadiens.
The Rangers moved within six points of Montreal, which is tied with the New York Islanders for seventh place in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Both teams lead the 11th-place Rangers by six points.
"We just didn't show up and do the things we need to do against a team that we could've put a long ways behind us," Montreal defenseman Sheldon Souray said. "The season is getting shorter."
New York, 1-1-1 on a season-high, six-game homestand won for only the 13th time at Madison Square Garden.
"It was a huge game," Lundqvist said. "It felt like we played our road game. We kept it really simple."
Montreal had won four of five but was done in by penalties. The Rangers went 2-for-7 on the power play, and the Canadiens failed on their two chances.
"Maybe we're really hardheaded or we're just not listening," Souray said. "We've talked about being disciplined and coming out with more emotion and more energy and a little more focus. All the things we talk about we don't do enough of."
"I feel good with the puck especially when I play with Jags and Straka and Nylander on the first or second lines," Hossa said. "I am given the opportunity and confidence, and can show what I can do."
Jagr scored his second power-play goal in two games to give the Rangers a much-needed win. Matt Cullen's empty-netter, with an assist from Hossa, sealed it with just under a minute left. Lundqvist's best stop came in the first period when he turned aside Michael Ryder on a breakaway out of the penalty box.
Jarkko Immonen, recalled before the game to help offset the loss of Straka, helped set up Hossa's first goal. That sent the Rangers on the way to their fifth win in 10 games (5-3-2) after they traded defenseman Aaron Ward and Pascal Dupuis.
It was a good bounce-back effort for New York, which gave up two short-handed goals in a 3-2 loss to Columbus on Saturday night after jumping out to a two-goal advantage.
The Rangers got in front of Montreal and 21-year-old goalie Jaroslav Halak and kept the Canadiens at bay.
Halak, filling in for injured regular Cristobal Huet, looked sharp in killing Ryder's tripping penalty but a tough bounce put Montreal in a hole as Ryder served a hooking infraction moments later.
Jagr swung around defenseman Francis Bouillon low in the right circle and fired a shot that clipped the butt end of Halak's stick and bounced in for a 1-0 New York lead.
"It's disappointing to lose these two points," Canadiens captain Saku Koivu said. "It was a big game for us and it was a big game for the Rangers. Why we came flat, I can't give you an answer."
Hossa scored twice in a 6:12 span, giving him his second multi-goal game in the NHL. He took a pass from Immonen near the left post and beat Halak at 9:32 during a power play. He made it 3-0 after Jagr's behind-the-back pass hit the skate of Rangers defenseman Marek Malik. Hossa cut around defenseman Mathieu Dandenault and scored with 4:16 left in the period.
Halak stopped 23 shots as he made his fifth start in six games since debuting in the NHL. He lost his second straight after three consecutive wins.
Straka sat out due to a shoulder injury sustained Saturday. ... Montreal hadn't lost on the road to the Rangers since March 11, 2002. ... Hossa scored two goals against Columbus on Jan. 16, 2006. His three points were a career best.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: Madison Square Garden Location: New York, New York
Referees: Don Koharski, Chris Lee Linesmen: Brian Mach, Steve Miller
Attendance: 18,200 (101.1% full)
Team Stat Comparison
Power Play Goals
Power Play Opportunities
Shots on Goal
Jaromir Jagr (23)
(Power Play) Assists: Matt Cullen, Petr Prucha
Marcel Hossa (9)
(Power Play) Unassisted
Marcel Hossa (10)
Assists: Marek Malik, Jaromir Jagr
Matt Cullen (12)
(Shorthanded) (Empty Net) Assists: Marcel Hossa, Michal Rozsival