With Carey Price on the shelf for the remainder of the series, the Montreal Canadiens knew they were going to have to focus on keeping the puck in the New York Rangers end and pepper their net with rubber.
The problem with that is there is a guy named Henrik Lungqvist between those pipes. King Henrik was the story as he made 40 saves to secure the win and bring a 2-0 series lead back to Madison Square Garden.
Dustin Tokarski, who has won at every level except the NHL, was a bit of a surprise starter in place of Price. He was solid in his NHL playoff debut, but it wasn’t enough as the Rangers took a 3-1 win.
The Habs got on the board first, but the lead was shortlived. Mats Zuccarello lost the puck in his skates in the Rangers slot and Max Pacioretty pounced on the loose puck and chipped it over Lundqvist to get the Bell Centre crowed riled up. They were quieted somewhat just 17 seconds later after Ryan McDonagh‘s harmless looking shot from the side boards got through traffic and past Tokarski to even it up.
Rick Nash scored for the second straight game after his storied 15 playoff game drought to give the New York Rangers their first lead of the game. Kreider finished off a perfectly executed 3-on-2, taking a cross-ice pass from Chris Kreider and one-timing it past Tokarski with just over a minute left in the period.
More bad news for the Montreal Canadiens is that the New York Rangers’ power play is heating up. It struck again near the mid-way point of the second as they threw it around the offensive zone, eventually finding its way to Martin St. Louis in the slot, and he fired it past Tokarski to make it 3-1.
The Habs poured it on in the third, firing 19 shots, but Lundqvist was impenetrable, even while the Canadiens pulled their goalie for the last 4:22 and had a power play during that time as well.
The Rangers appear to be in the driver’s seat, taking both games in Montreal and a definite chance to finish this series in the shortest time possible with a couple of home wins.
Game 3 goes Thursday nigh, as the teams get a couple of days off.