The Eastern Conference Finals continued at the Canadian Bell Center in Montreal, Canada. Game two’s matchup of the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens was on NBCSN, with the puck drop at 8:10 pm EST.
The Canadiens tried to redeem their Saturday embarrassment at home by equaling the series one game a piece. Much of the news centered on Carey Price’s unavailability for the rest of the playoffs and New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider.
How would Montreal respond?
As the game began, the Bell Center was in full force. At puck drop, the Rangers line of Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, and Chris Kreider took the ice. On defense, Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi patrolled the backend.
The Montreal faithful gave Kreider the royal treatment of boos, reserved for the likes of Zdeno Chara, every time he touched the puck.
After a bad giveaway from Marc Staal, Henrik Lundqvist faced the Canadiens first barrage of shots. Montreal made it known that they were here to play. They were able to keep the puck in the offensive zone and make the New York Rangers scramble in their own end.
At 18:31, both teams were penalized with unsportsmanlike conduct after a play on Dustin Tokarski. Rangers forward Dominic Moore and Canadiens defenseman Nathan Beaulieu were sent to the penalty box. The game’s first four on four playey made an appearance.
The Rangers first shot on the young goalie Dustin Tokarski was attempted by Martin St. Louis.
The Canadiens Max Pacierotty opened the scoring with a bouncing puck off Henrik Lundqvist, at 6:14 of the period. Montreal took the lead 1-0.
Shortly after, the Rangers countered. Ryan McDonagh put a wrist shot on goal, which found the back of the net, all made possible by the efforts of the third line, led by Dominic Moore, subbing for the injured Derick Brassard. The goal was scored at 6:31 and the game was tied.
The first signs of retaliation by the Canadiens on Chris Kreider was seen near the Rangers bench. After losing his footing, trying to push the puck up ice, Canadiens forward and captain Brian Gionta was seen checking the forward while he was on his knees. A dangerous play to say the least, Montreal was telling the kid to keep his head up.
The Canadiens received their first power play after a tripping call was whistled on Rangers forward Carl Hagelin.
Unfortunately, the power play was short lived for Montreal, when Thomas Vanek was called for slashing Ryan McDonagh. The game saw its second four on four.
After a Brad Richards turnover, the Canadiens had a beautiful tick-tack-toe passing sequence where a wrist shot was stoned by Henrik Lundqvist on Max Pacierotty.
Within the last two minutes, Derek Dorsett appeared to be in some discomfort on the bench on a previous play, behind the Montreal net.
With a little over a minute left, Rick Nash scored a one-timer and his second goal of the playoffs. Rangers forwards Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan were credited with assists.
As the first period came to close, the play of Henrik Lundqvist was the difference from being down one to being up one on the scoreboard.
As the second period began, no power plays were carried over for either team.
Within the first two minutes, matching penalties were called on Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi for cross-checking and, Canadiens forward Lars Eller for tripping.
Another penalty was called on the Canadiens. PK Subban was whistled for roughing. The Rangers received a four on three power play. Unfortunately, even after getting Dan Girardi back for a five on four man-advantage, the team could not capitalize.
A delayed penalty to Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk, who making a return from an injury, was called for tripping Carl Hagelin. The Rangers had their third power play opportunity. After being able to setup in the offensive zone, crisp and precise passing from both sides of the ice, the puck found its way to Martin St. Louis’ stick, where he graciously put in the back of the net, making it 3-1. Assists were credited to Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh.
A delayed penalty was called on Benoit Pouliot for tripping PK Subban. Montreal had their second man-advantage of the game. A successful kill by the Rangers kept the Canadiens at bay and no goals were given up.
As the period was coming to a close, a delayed penalty was called on Chris Kreider for holding on PK Subban. Montreal had its third power play of the game.
The period ended and Montreal had a 1:20 of power play to start the third.
With only twenty minutes left in game two, the Canadians were again in desperate need of goals. They needed to get something going to get the Montreal crowd back on their side, and to put some doubts in the Rangers team as the series shifted to New York for game 3.
To start the third, the Canadiens had their power play carry over from the second period. Another blistering shot from PK Subban from the point was grabbed out of the air by Henrik Lundqvist. As the Rangers penalty ended, no goals were scored by the Canadiens. Both teams were back to even strength.
As time trickled down in the third period, the Rangers played a disciplined, defensive style of play. Each time, the Canadiens would start to gain momentum, the defense was quick to react and stomp on any scoring opportunities.
A recurring name throughout the game has been Henrik Lundqvist. Throughout the NBC broadcast, “Doc” Emrick could be heard saying “Save by Lundqvist.”
At the 4:22 mark, a penalty was called on Rangers forward Benoit Pouliot for boarding of Montreal’s defenseman Alexi Emelin. With the man-advantage, head coach Michel Therrien pulled Dustin Tokarski in favor of the extra man. It was a six on four power play. After a flurry of shots and chaos in front of Lundvist, the Rangers were able to thwart the Canadiens efforts.
With less than two minutes, Montreal kept Tokarski on the bench, leaving an empty net. Try as they might, the puck could not find its way past Lundqvist.
For the game, the Rangers were outshot 30 to the Canadiens’ 41. However, Montreal could only get one past the King.
Once the clock struck zero and the buzzer sounded, the Rangers were left standing, taking a 2-0 playoff series lead back to Madison Square Garden.
Game three will be on Thursday, May 22 at 8:00 pm EST in New York City.