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NY Rangers, Lundqvist take 2-0 lead on Montreal in conference final

Rangers upend Canadiens 3-1, take 2-0 series lead

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Montreal Canadiens' Brendan Gallagher slides in on New York Rangers' goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, left, during the second period in Game 2 of the NHL hockey Eastern Conference final Stanley Cup playoff action in Montreal, Monday, May 19, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Graham Hughes)

Losing Carey Price ignited a fire in the Montreal Canadiens, who peppered the New York Rangers with shots in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final. But while the Habs lost their starting goalie to injury, the Rangers and their starting goalie are looking stronger than ever.

Henrik Lundqvist stopped 40 shots as the Rangers took a 2-0 lead over the Canadiens with a 3-1 victory on Monday night.

Montreal had 80 shot attempts in Game 2, and 18 of them originated from the stick of P.K. Subban. The Rangers, in contrast, had 44.

Although they didn’t carry play, the Rangers continue to see problems they had earlier in the postseason slowly being solved. Rick Nash scored his second goal in two games, after scoring two in his previous 30 playoff games. The Rangers’ power play, which was completely lifeless in the previous round, is now 4 for its last 10 chances.

Most importantly, they responded to a quick Max Pacioretty goal at 6:14 – the puck deflected off his body, on a Lundqvist pokecheck – with a Ryan McDonagh goal at 6:31 that deflected past Dustin Tokarski off of defenseman Josh Gorges.

Tokarski, playing in his first Stanley Cup Playoff game, wasn’t bad. The Nash goal, scored on a 3-on-2, was stoppable, but the defensive breakdown at 18:58 of the first is what gave the Rangers a lead they wouldn’t surrender.

It was a goal that sapped the energy from the Habs and the Bell Centre.

Marty St. Louis’ goal, his fifth, on the power play at 8:03 of the second wasn’t on Tokarski either. He was screened by Chris Kreider – Enemy No. 1 for the Montreal fans, untouched for the most part by Canadiens players. The Rangers are now 5-1 with Kreider in the lineup in the playoffs, after missing time with an injury.

From there on, it was the Lundqvist show again, as the Rangers’ goalie continued to be his team’s backbone.

The Rangers take a 2-0 series lead back to MSG for Game 3 on Thursday night, sensing that the Canadiens might be lost without theirs.

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