MONTREAL: With goaltender Henrik Lundqvist in brilliant form, the New York Rangers blew past the Canadiens 7-2 in Game One of the Eastern Conference finals at the Bell Center.
Goals 51 seconds apart late in the second period by winger Chris Kreider and center Brad Richards helped turn a 2-1 Rangers lead into a convincing victory in a building that went from very loud to quite quiet over the course of three hours.
Defenseman Ryan McDonagh, centre Derek Stepan and wingers Martin St. Louis, Mats Zuccarrello and Rick Nash had the other Rangers goals. McDonagh added three assists for a four-point game, while Zuccarello also had a couple of helpers.
Winger Rene Bourque and centre Lars Eller scored the Montreal goals.
Despite facing only 22 shots, Rangers goalie Lundqvist was outstanding with 20 saves, particularly in the second period with the game still on the line.
Canadiens goalie Carey Price was lifted after two periods, during which he gave up four goals on 20 shots. He was replaced by goalie Peter Budaj, who made five saves.
St. Louis opened the scoring on New York’s fifth shot after being set up by a backhand pass from center Dominic Moore at 4:35 of the first period.
Zuccarello struck 1:52 later when he relayed home a nice feed from McDonagh after Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban chased Moore behind the net.
Bourque made it close with a chip shot over Lundqvist’s right shoulder 12:38 into the second, a goal that whipped the Bell Centre faithful into a frenzy and gave the Canadiens some life.
But at every turn, Lundqvist was there to stop them.
He robbed Max Pacioretty twice in the middle frame, and also made a big blocker save against Subban. REUTERS