The New York Rangers are continuing their dominant playoff run with a 3-1 victory in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Behind the exceptional performances of their star goalie Henrik Lundqvist in the first two games of the series, the Rangers are now up 2-0 on the Montreal Canadiens and take that lead back with them into Madison Square Garden for back-to-back home games.
New York’s win on Monday night marks their fifth straight playoff win, with the previous three of those wins coming in their last round close-out of the Penguins. The last time that the Rangers won five straight playoff games was in 1994 which also happens to be the last time the Rangers won the Stanley Cup.
The Canadiens did everything they wanted to do to start the game. Montreal came right out of the gates and controlled the puck from the first faceoff to the time of their first goal. Lundqvist was under constant pressure right from the get-go and Montreal finally broke through at the 6:14 into the first period by virtue of a Max Pacioretty deflection.
But that would prove to be the only offense that the Canadiens could muster.
Almost immediately, the Rangers responded with a goal of their own. On what resembled a dump-in pass more than a shot, Ryan McDonagh found the back of the net all the way from the blue line just 17 seconds after Pacioretty scored. McDonagh’s shot was only one of the first shots that Montreal fill-in goalie Dustin Tokarski faced.
The Rangers added in another one before the end of the period. Rick Nash scored his second goal of the playoffs with just over a minute left in the period to give New York a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. New York would add one more goal before the final horn to take the 3-1 victory.
Lundqvist was the majority of the reason that the Rangers are where they are now. The veteran goaltender tallied 40 saves on Monday night and refused to let Montreal get back into the game after the Rangers took the lead.
It was evident on Monday night that Montreal is dead in the water without their star goalie Carey Price. After a 7-2 rout in Game 1, Montreal has now been outscored 10-2 in the first two games of the series. With the series shifting back to New York for Game 3 and Game 4, it is hard to see a scenario in which Montreal gets their act together and fights off elimination.
The only way that the Canadiens can muster a comeback is with puck control. If Montreal draws penalties, gets on the power play and controls the puck, then they have a chance. The first 6:14 of Game 2 showed exactly how the Habs need to play if they want to win. They have the tools to pull it off, starting with P.K. Suban, but with the way the Rangers are playing at this point in time, I see them steamrolling right into the Stanley Cup Finals.