NEW YORK — Madison Square Garden was shaking. Three minutes earlier, the air had been sucked out of the building after Danny Briere’s goal gave Montreal a 2-1 lead late in the third period of Game 3. But New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider, who’s terrorized the Canadiens all series, just watched as his deflection banked off Alexei Emelin’s skate and trickled behind Dustin Tokarski to tie the game with 28.1 seconds left in regulation.
The emotional swing on the Rangers’ bench summed up what the Stanley Cup Playoffs can do to you. For the many downs, there are the ups. But on this night, the high that New York was on as they entered their dressing room before the start of overtime soon vanished as Henrik Lundqvist's stick save on a Tomas Plekanec shot went off Alex Galchenyuk and into the net to give the Canadiens life in the series.
“Tough luck,” Lundqvist said afterward.
After the Rangers took a 2-0 series lead on Tuesday, P.K. Subban summed up some of Lundqvist’s success in the opening two games by attributing it to luck.
“In the past, we’ve done those same things and the puck’s gone in,” Subban said. “So I mean, is he playing well? Yeah, but we’re doing a good job. Some of it is luck, as well. He’s getting a little bit lucky, but that’s what you need in the playoffs.”
Luck. The fortunate bounce. Call it what you will. Things find a way of evening out in hockey and between Briere’s tying goal, which was dragged across the goal line by McDonagh’s skate, and Galchenyuk’s winner, it was Montreal’s turn in Game 3.
“All the goals today weren’t the prettiest goals,” said McDonagh. “A lot of times it’s just putting pucks toward the net and see everything is bouncing off guys and find a way into the net. In the end, I think we wished we would have capitalized on a few more looks.”
Two of those looks were stunning Dustin Tokarski saves on Martin St. Louis. The first coming early in the second period when the score was 1-1 and the other coming with 57 seconds left in regulation and Montreal clinging to a 2-1 lead. Missed opportunities are now rued in defeat.
The Canadiens failed to get traffic in front of Lundqvist in Games 1 and 2. After Game 3, the Rangers talked about Tokarski being able to see pucks and hoping to “take away his eyes” in Game 4. The 24-year old netminder made 35 saves on Thursday night and may have revived some heartbeats that flatlined after hearing the news that Carey Price was out for the series.
Now it’s a series, and with two days off before Game 4 Sunday night at MSG, the Rangers have some extra time to come down from this low.
“It’s a tough one after the way we came back,” said Rick Nash. “It’s over now. We can’t do anything about. We’ve got to go back to work tomorrow, do some video and see what we can do better for Game 4.”
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