The Eastern Conference final couldn’t have started much better for the New York Rangers.
For the Canadiens, it couldn’t have started much worse.
After getting blown out in the opener and losing Carey Price, the Canadiens failed to draw even with the Rangers on Monday night, dropping a 3-1 decision to fall behind 2-0 in the series while further frittering away their home-ice advantage.
The Rangers, meanwhile, proved once again to be a highly effective road team, winning their sixth away game of the postseason and fourth straight, dating back to Games 5 and 7 of the Pittsburgh series. Part of that success comes from the team’s red-hot power play, which on Monday scored for the seventh time in those four road wins.
Much like they were in Game 1 against Montreal, the Blueshirts were led by the quartet of Martin St. Louis, Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh and Henrik Lundqvist. McDonagh, who has been an absolute Habs killer in this series, had a goal an an assist, now giving him six points over the first two games; St. Louis and Nash both found the back of the net for the second straight contest — the fifth goal of the postseason for St. Louis, the second for Nash — while Lundqvist was his usual solid self, stopping 40 of 41 shots for his 10th win of the postseason.
In the other goal, the story wasn’t as good.
Dustin Tokarski, making his NHL playoff debut in place of the injured Carey Price, allowed three goals on 30 shots and didn’t look especially sharp, though he was hardly at fault for the loss. Montreal gave the inexperienced netminder just one goal of offense and have now beaten Lundqvist just three times on 63 shots.
Max Pacioretty scored the lone goal for the Canadiens, an unassisted marker early in the first period to briefly give his team a 1-0 lead. McDonagh evened the score 17 seconds later on another unassisted marker.
With the win, New York is now two wins away from its first Stanley Cup Final appearance since 1994; the Habs, meanwhile, will now try to become the 20th team in playoffs history to win a series when losing the first two games at home.
In order to achieve the feat, the Habs are going to have to win at least two games at MSG… which means they’ll need to conjure up some road magic of their own.