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On Monday night, the New York Rangers did it again. They defeated the Canadiens in Montreal by the score of 3-1, to take a commanding 2-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Every now and then a team comes together at the right time. They sacrifice, they dedicate, and everything seems to click with seamless effort. And oh yeah, it does not hurt to have Henrik Lundqvist playing goalie like this (a mad man on a mission).
The Montreal crowd was raucous and irate right from the get-go in this one. Raucous because they knew their team needed the support; and irate because they knew Rangers forward Chris Kreider was on the ice (who was booed profusely every time he touched the puck).
In Game 1 (Rangers 7-2 victory), Kreider was involved in a collision with Canadiens star goalie Carey Price. Price was injured, left the game and earlier in the day on Monday it was announced he would miss the remainder of the series.
The result of the crazed Montreal fans was an all-out attack by the Canadiens. Flying all over the ice would be an understatement as they tested Lundqvist right off the bat. But Lundqvist stood tall and reminded everybody that this could finally be his time as he stopped around eight high-quality scoring chances in the first-period and 40 saves in total on the night, according to CBS Sports.
Despite the first period being completely dominated by Montreal, New York still led the game 2-1 on goals by Ryan McDonaugh (3) and Rick Nash (2). This was completely deflating for the Habs.
In the second-period, the Rangers started to take control and never looked back. Marty St. Louis scored on a beautiful setup by Derek Stepan on the Power Play to make it 3-1 in favor of the Blue-Shirts.
Youngster Dustin Tokarski filled in at the goalie spot for Price and did not play all that bad. The problem was he is not Carey Price, and that’s what this team needs right now. Tokarski stopped 27 shots on 30 chances, according to The Canadian Press, and the Rick Nash goal especially showed a weakness to get across the net quickly.
With the score firmly settled at 3-1, the Rangers began to clamp down on defense late in the second and throughout the third. New York’s defensive style limited the Canadiens to very few scoring chances late in the game.
The Rangers have now won five straight games dating back to Game 5 of the Pittsburgh series. Fans of this team know that things have a funny way of working themselves out. Despite all the recent great fortune and hot play, many are still waiting for the other shoe to drop.
At this point, with what we have seen in the past five games: Is it still possible for something to go terribly wrong? Even the most die-hard Ranger pessimist has a hard time thinking that now. We will find out Thursday night back at the Garden.
Blueshirts win Game 2! Henrik Lundqvist saves 40 shots as Rangers beat Canadiens, 3-1. New York wins 5th straight. pic.twitter.com/D2edvdc3Iu
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 20, 2014
Image via Twitter from SportsCenter