NHL Playoffs: Rangers win on road again, take 2-0 lead
MONTREAL — Proving wrong a hunch by Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien, the New York Rangers took full control of the Eastern Conference final Monday night at Bell Centre.
The Rangers scored three times on their first 14 shots against Montreal goalie Dustin Tokarski en route to a 3-1 victory that gives them a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Games 3 and 4 will be played in New York.
With star goalie Carey Price injured and declared done for the series, Therrien turned to his third-string goalie, bypassing veteran backup Peter Budaj. Tokarski, who played just three NHL games this season and was making his playoff debut, wound up stopping 27 shots, but he didn’t settle in quickly enough.
Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist was again stellar, making 40 saves.
Wingers Martin St. Louis and Rick Nash and defenseman Ryan McDonagh scored the New York goals. Winger Max Pacioretty replied for the Canadiens.
St. Louis, who buried his mother a day earlier, scored the only goal of the second period, whipping a shot from the slot past Tokarski’s catcher with the Rangers on the power play. It also proved to be the last goal of the game.
As expected, the Canadiens came out flying and seriously threatened in the first minute, when winger Rene Bourque had two chances from the side of Lundqvist. In fact, Montreal didn’t let the Rangers have a shot on Tokarski until the 4:25 mark, when St. Louis was sent in alone for a backhand chance after a missed offside call. Tokarski made a nice save off that attempt, and the Canadiens said their thanks by giving him a lead less than two minutes later.
However, Pacioretty’s fourth goal of the playoffs, a reward for going hard to the New York net at 6:14 of the opening period, stood as the lone marker for all of 17 seconds. McDonagh’s third goal of the postseason and fifth point of the series was a harmless-looking shot from the point that hit a body in front, changed directions and went in off the post.
The teams looked to be headed to the first intermission tied, but Nash scored with 62 seconds left in the period, taking a pass from winger Chris Kreider off a rush and one-timing a shot past Tokarski, who was slow getting across his crease.
NOTES: The Rangers were without C Derick Brassard, who was injured when hit by Canadiens D Mike Weaver early in Game 1. Brassard, who has four goals and three assists in 15 playoff games, was New York’s fourth leading scorer in the regular season with 45 points. He was replaced in the lineup by W Dan Carcillo. ... Canadiens W Alex Galchenyuk suited up for the first time since sustaining a knee injury April 9. He took the roster spot of rookie W Michael Bournival. ... Replacing injured Canadiens G Carey Price was rookie G Dustin Tokarski, who has won three championships over the last half dozen years. Among his 10 regular-season NHL games, Tokarski faced the Rangers once, giving up three goals on 11 shots in just over 24 minutes. ... There is a new villain in Montreal. Fans showed their displeasure with Rangers W Chris Kreider, who sidelined Price for the series while crashing into him during Game 1, by booing the New York rookie every time he touched the puck.