Home court advantage or taking an early lead isn’t helping the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern conference finals as the New York Rangers beat them 3-1 to take a 2-0 lead despite playing away from home and going down early to a Max Pacioretty. Ryan McDonagh, Rick Nash and of course Martin St. Louis had no problem turning the tide, as the Bell Centre “curse” seems to be something in ancient history.
Henriq Lundqvist was excellent with 40 saves (97.6%), and before this series hasn’t even started a game in Montreal for two years. The demons were that bad, but they seem to be gone now. The Canadiens on the other hand had their issues with the goalie, as Carey Price didn’t start because of an injury, so Dustin Tokarski was in his place and wasn’t as unbeatable as the Canadiens were hoping he’d be. Lundqvist has now allowed only three goals on 63 attempts in the series.
The Canadiens were aggressive right from the start, and eventually got their goal after Lundqvist’s clearance attempt hit Pacioretty. However, it didn’t take the Rangers long for an equalizer, as McDonagh’s shot hit Josh Gorges on the leg and made it impossible for Tokarski, who did look shaky at times but had only one actual goal that he had a chance of stopping, to make the save, killing that early momentum.
The second goal was Tokarski, who was very late getting across. Chris Kreider sent across to the right side which was finished skillfully by Rick Nash, getting some ample booing from the fans, but their goalie, having some very big shoes to fill, was in the wrong on this one. Despite all of their pressure on the Rangers, the Canadiens were down by a goal at the end of the first period, and frustration and even desperation was beginning to sink in.
Martin St. Louis and his teammates attended the funeral of his mother the day before. He scored the killer goal in the second period on a power play, which prompted a lot of defense and time killing from the Rangers the rest of the way, as the initial enthusiasm from the hosts soon died down, finding themselves heading to New York with a two-game hole and possibly less than ample oxygen for some impressive comeback.
It’s been an emotional weekend. I’ll definitely never forget this weekend for many reasons, but I think the grieving process will still take a while. But that stuff is behind me. Tonight, we wanted to make sure we’d have the emotion we’d need to win this game because we knew they would come out hard, especially rallying, losing their best player, so I thought we answered.