Game one of the Eastern Conference Final got underway this afternoon at the Canadian Belle Center in Montreal, Canada. Puck drop was at 1:00 pm EST. The New York Rangers battled the Montreal Canadiens, as they were the final two teams standing in the Eastern Conference.
The Montreal crowd was into it from the beginning. As the ice was on fire, it signaled the start of an Original Six rematch, 18 years in the making.
At 4:35 of the period, Martin St. Louis scored the opening goal from a pass through the middle from Dominic Moore and aided from the point by Kevin Klein. This was made possible by good puck containment and movement.
At 6:27 of the period, the Rangers struck again against the Canadiens. This time it was Mats Zuccarello, who took advantage of a rebound in front of Carey Price. McDonagh and Moore were credited with assists.
And just like that, the Rangers were up 2-0 in the house of horrors.
The first penalty of the game was called on Rene Bourque for hooking Benoit Pouliot. The Rangers found themselves on the power play. Unfortunately, the team was unable to capitalize. The power play woes continued.
Another penalty was called on Bourque for hooking, again, this time it was on Brian Boyle. Again, the Rangers found themselves on the man advantage. After a bad pinch by Brad Richards, a short handed chance for the Canadiens’ Max Pacioretty was almost capitalized. Fortunately, Lundqvist stood tall and the Rangers were able to regroup. Despite this, the Rangers left empty handed on the power play.
As the second period started, the Canadiens tried to push back. The team made an effort to tilt the ice back in the favor, by putting shots on goal and making the Rangers scramble.
At the 16:45 mark of the period, Rangers forward Chris Kreider almost scored on a 1 on two, where he split the defense. No goal was scored. Unfortunately, Kreider crashed into Price, and he was seen favoring his right knee. Fortunately, no one was injured and play continued.
At the 13:27 mark of the period, Lundqvist faced a scare from PK Subban. Subban had a prime A scoring chance in front of his goal. However, Lundqvist was able to stop his wrist shot, glove high.
At 7:22, the Canadiens finally found the scoreboard. Behind the Rangers’ net, Canadiens’ captain Brian Gionta dished to Bourque for a quick touch shot past Lundqvist. However, there was a missed call on Montreal for too many men on the ice. Unfortunately, after some debate, the goal was upheld and the game was 2-1.
A penalty on the Rangers was called on Brian Boyle for holding, at the 15:53 mark. The Canadiens found themselves on their first power play of the game. The Rangers stood tall, as the penalty kill unit weathered the storm of the Canadiens man advantage.
With a little over a minute left in the period, forward Chris Kreider put one past Price, low stick side. Assists were credited to Rick Nash. But the Rangers weren’t done.
With :12 seconds left in the period, Brad Richards took a pass from Mats Zuccarello and bounced off Price, blocker side. An additional assist was credited to Marc Staal.
As the period ended, the Belle Center crowd was stunned; and a hush could be felt. Despite the Canadians dominating much of the play this period, the Rangers were able to bend and not break too much. The Rangers were able to close out the period on a high note, by putting doubts into the Canadiens and their fans.
With 20 minutes left in game one, the Rangers had to expect the Canadiens to come out aggressive and solve the riddle that was Henrik Lundqvist.
As the third period opened, backup goaltender, Petr Budjai was in net.
A delayed penalty was called on Cannadiens’ forward P.K. Subban for high sticking Benoit Pouliot. The Rangers had their third power play of the game. At this point, the team has been unsuccessful . However, Ryan McDonagh changed all that by blistering a slap shot, top shelf, past Budjai’s shoulder. Assists were credited to Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider. The score, 5-1 and the power play was one for three.
Shortly afterwards, another penalty was called on Montreal’s Max Pacioretty for roughing. During the Rangers power play, another penalty was called on former teammate Brandon Prust for a slash on Chris Kreider. Adittionally, Canadiens forward Daniel Briere served an unsportsmanlike conduct, giving the Rangers a five on three. The Rangers were happy to oblige. The power play found life against Budjai. Derek Stepan scored on the five on three advantage. Then, Rick Nash who has been held goal less in the playoffs, broke his slump on a wrist shot, making it 7-1. At this point, the game was not even half way through.
During NBC’s broadcast, Ryan McDonagh was seen hurt on the Rangers’ bench. Pierre McGuire reported that he was hurt, during an earlier entanglement with Candadiens forward Daniel Briere. The replay showed that McDonagh took a punch to the jaw and had his stick held. Fortunately, it appeared not to be serious.
With 5:59 left in the period, Canadien forward Rene Bourque took his third penalty of the game. He was called for elbowing; and, the Rangers had their seventh power play of the game. With the game lopsided, head coach Alain Vigneault utitilized his bench and gave his fourth line a chance on the power play. Unfortunately, the Canadiens were able to get a goal back back. Lars Eller took advantage of a giveaway by Martin St. Louis and scored on Lundqvist, making the score 7-2.
Rangers defenseman John Moore was called for tripping; and the Canadiens had their second power play of the game. During their power play, the Rangers appeared to be playing safe, allowing shots and forwards to get in close on Lundqvist. Fortunately, no goals were scored.
As the period came to an end, Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi was called for roughing .
This was a dominating effort by the Rangers. Aside from the second period, the team stifled the Canadiens and came away with the game one win. Henrik Lundqvist stopped two of 22 shots faced. The Rangers put up 28 shots on the Canadiens’ goalies.
Game two will be on Monday at 8:00 om EST, on NBCSN.