New York heads home with 2-0 series lead in Eastern Conference final

Photo: The Canadian Press

Martin St. Louis scored in the second period and Henrik Lundqvist made 40 saves as the New York Rangers made it two in a row at the Bell Centre with a 3-1 victory over the Carey Price-less Montreal Canadiens on Monday night.

The Rangers lead the best-of-seven Eastern Conference final 2-0 heading back to New York for Game 3 on Thursday and Game 4 on Sunday.

St. Louis scored a day after he and his teammates attended the funeral of his mother, who died suddenly just before Mother's Day. The Rangers have rallied around the grieving veteran and have won five in a row since her death.

New York's Rick Nash also scored while Ryan McDonagh added a goal and an assist to give the defenceman six points in the opening two games of the series.

Max Pacioretty scored for Montreal, which outshot New York 41-30.

The Canadiens had a shaky Dustin Tokarski playing his first career NHL playoff game in goal in place of Price, the Olympic gold medallist who hurt his right knee in the series opener when he was crashed into by Chris Kreider.

The Canadiens rebounded from a listless 7-2 thumping in the opener with one of their better games of the playoffs, but some bounces went New York's way and Lundqvist proved he has exorcised his Bell Centre demons with a nearly flawless game.

The high-paced action from the start between two of the league's best skating teams had the 21,273 in the seats aroar for most of the game.

Montreal's worst fears were realized in the first period, which they dominated while still falling behind 2-1.

A long period of sustained pressure produced the first goal as Lundqvist's clearing attempt went off Pacioretty's skate and into the net at 6:14.

But only 17 seconds later, the hockey gods gave it back to New York as McDonagh swiped a puck toward the net from the point and saw it go in off Josh Gorges' leg and a goalpost.

The crowd was booing Kreider when he sent a pass across to the right side and Nash's one-time went in off the midsection of Tokarski, who was late getting across. It was the second in as many games and second of the playoffs for Nash.

Tokarski had no chance as St. Louis wired a shot from the slot on a power play inside the post at 8:03 of the middle frame.

The Rangers played a thorough defensive game in the third to prevent a comeback.

Game 3 goes Thursday in New York.

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