MONTREAL: The visiting New York Rangers overcame a spirited start by the Montreal Canadiens with some brilliant goaltending and a string of three goals for a 3-1 win yesterday to seize a commanding 2-0 lead in the NHL Eastern Conference Finals.
Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist stopped 40 of 41 shots, frustrating a slew of scoring chances with a rock-steady performance in the face of relentless pressure.
Goals by Ryan McDonagh, Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis answered an intial score by the Canadiens to send the series back to New York’s Madison Square Garden for Game Three on Thursday.
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault gave Lundqvist a lot of credit for the victory.
“He’s the only reason why we were still in the game. After a tremendous push they had control and possession of the game when they scored,” Vigneault said.
“Obviously the turning point was we ended up scoring to tie it up off a lucky bounce and that changed the dynamics of the game.” The swarming, determined Canadiens, playing with untested rookie Dustin Tokarski in the net for injured goalie Carey Price, peppered Lundqvist with shots from the start and took a 1-0 lead at 6:14 on a ricochet goal in front of the net by Max Pacioretty.
Seventeen seconds later the Rangers equalized on an unassisted goal by McDonagh, whose blast bounced off Montreal’s Josh Gorges and past the 24-year-old Tokarski, starting his eighth NHL game and first playoff contest.
The Rangers took lead with one minute left in first period as Chris Kreider whipped a pass to Nash, who one-timed it past Tokarski to make it 2-1 for Rangers, who were outshot 14-9. REUTERS