The New York Rangers entered the Eastern Conference finals as underdogs to advance to the 2014 Stanley Cup. As they enter Game Three, they’re on the verge of taking a commanding lead over the Montreal Canadiens.
The series shifts to Madison Square Garden on Thursday night, with the Rangers up 2-0 in the seven-game set. They stole the first two contests in Montreal, outscoring the higher-seeded Canadiens 10-3 on their home ice.
The complexion of the series changed in Game One, as a result of the play of the two goalies. Not only did Montreal goalie Carey Price allow four goals in just 40 minutes, but a leg injury forced him out of the contest, as well as the remainder of the series. While the Canadiens have been without their star goalie, Henrik Lundqvist has been outstanding in net for New York.
“King Henrik” has faced his share of criticism throughout his career, failing to lead the Rangers to a Stanley Cup Finals in his previous eight seasons as a starter. In 2014, he’s the No.1 reason why the club is so close to winning the East.
Dating back to Game Five of the conference semifinals, Lundqvist has led New York to five straight victories, allowing two goals in one contest and just one in the other four games. Game Two was the veteran’s best performance, as he helped the Rangers head home with a two-game advantage. He stopped 40 of 41 shots, including 19 in the final period.
"You know what? The reason why we lost the game tonight was Lundqvist. Lundqvist was phenomenal. Phenomenal," Montreal head coach Michael Therrien said, following the loss. "Stole the game."
Dustin Tokarski will do his best to keep up with Lundqvist. He was called on to start in Game Two, after having only played in 10 career NHL games. Tokarski was given the start over backup Peter Budaj, despite having no playoff experience. He did his best to keep the Canadiens in the game, saving 27 of 30 shots. However, he might have to be a lot better, if Lundqvist continues on this roll.
Things might look bleak for the Canadiens, heading on the road and having lost the first two games at Bell Centre. However, going to New York might be exactly what they need. The Rangers are worse at home, where they won just 20 games in the regular season. Montreal won three more games on the road than New York did at MSG.
Player To Watch: Henrik Lundqvist
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Place: Madison Square Garden
TV Channel: NBC Sports Network
Online Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
Betting Odds: New York -175, Montreal +155
Prediction: New York over Montreal, 4-2