Plenty of story lines were blown apart in just one game as the New York Rangers blew out the Montreal Canadiens 7-2 to take Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final.
The Rangers were led by defenseman Ryan McDonagh with a goal and three assists, forward Mats Zuccarello had a goal and two assists and four other players, including Rick Nash, finished with a goal and an assist. The goal was Nash’s first of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
After all the talk of how poorly Henrik Lundqvist has played in his career in Montreal, he gave up two goals on 18 shots and only had to withstand pressure in the second period from Montreal to preserve the lead.
New York held a 2-1 lead in the second when Rene Bourque brought the Canadiens to within one, but goals from Chris Kreider and Brad Richards late in the period made it 4-1 headed into the third.
Both teams will have potential injuries to keep an eye on headed into Game 2.
Rangers forward Derick Brassard was hurt early in the first period after a big hit from Habs defenseman Mike Weaver. Canadiens goalie Carey Price was roughed up a bit after a collision with Kreider in the second period and while he finished the second, Peter Budaj took his place in goal to start the third period.
After the power play woes the Rangers had in the first two rounds with Philadelphia andPittsburgh, they scored three with the extra man in the third period and went 3-for-7 overall.
Here are the Rangers-heavy highlights from Game 1:
Playing at the Bell Centre in Montreal hasn’t always come with the best results for New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
Lundqvist hasn’t played in Montreal since Jan. 15, 2012, serving as the Rangers backup in four straight games at Bell Centre. He hasn’t won in the building since March 17, 2009.
Well, that’s going to have to change if the Rangers are to advance past the Canadiens and on to the Stanley Cup Final.
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara might have played through the second half of Boston’s series against the Montreal Canadiens with a significant injury.
Slovak general manager Otto Sykora told hokej.sk that Chara wouldn’t play in the world championships because he suffered broken finger and he will need surgery.
Chara was slashed on the hand, but that occurred during Game 3 of the second round series.
Chara still logged over 20 minutes in each of the Bruins next three contests, but Montreal ultimately eliminated Boston in seven games. He had two goals and four points in 12 playoff contests in 2014 while averaging a team-high 25:20 minutes per contest.
It’s worth adding that Bruins president Cam Neely told 98.5 The Sports Hub on Thursday that he wasn’t aware that Chara had sustained an injury during the Bruins’ playoff run.
Update: Chara doesn’t want to talk about injuries, but he address the matter this afternoon.
“It’s something that doesn’t need to be surgically [fixed] so far and hopefully it stays that way,” Chara told ESPN. “It’s not something I’m going to blame or making excuses. That’s the way it is. We all play with different injuries, or banged up and that’s part of hockey in the playoffs. For sure, that’s not why we lost.”
The plan is to continue to “stay on top of” the situation over the next few days to make sure that his plans don’t need to be altered.
Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is one of the main reason the New York Rangers have gotten to the Eastern Conference Final. If they are going to get any further though, Lundqvist will need to do better at Montreal’s Bell Centre than he has in quite a while.
Lundqvist has a career 3.87 GAA and .876 save percentage there and hasn’t won in Montreal since March 17, 2009, per Newsday.
“It’s so long since I’ve played there, I don’t really remember,” Lundqvist said.
He’s right. He hasn’t played there in over two years as both former coach John Tortorella and current bench boss Alain Vigneault have exclusively used their backup goaltenders in Montreal for the last two seasons.
“It just happened that way,” Vigneault said.
The Canadiens have home ice advantage in the upcoming series, so Lundqvist will get his first chance in a while to end that slump on Saturday (1:00 p.m. ET, NBC).
Even though tonight’s Game 7 between the Bruins and Canadiens is being played at TD Garden, the Bell Centre will still be rocking.
The Habs have sold out their barn — all 21,273 seats — for Wednesday’s win-or-go-home contest, according to NHL.com. The game will be played on the Bell Centre scoreboard video screen, much like it was four years ago when the Canadiens made a surprising run to the Eastern Conference finals.
The Canadiens did the same thing for the two seventh games they played in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs and the reaction was just as enthusiastic; the game sold out in less than two hours at $10 a ticket.
“I probably shouldn’t be surprised, but I still am,” Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher said. “It’s just the passion that comes with the Montreal Canadiens fans.
“Obviously we care a lot in this room, but they care a lot as well about the logo and the history and everything that comes with it.”
Tonight’s contest is the ninth Game 7 between Boston and Montreal in 34 all-time playoff series. Montreal holds a 5-3 edge in wins but the Bruins are 3-2 all-time at home, which includes the 2011 opening round in which Nathan Horton scored in OT to send Boston onto Round 2.