The New York Rangers stunned the Montreal Canadiens by scoring seven goals, as they stole Game One of the 2014 Eastern Conference finals. Falling behind 1-0 in the series, though, is now the least of Montreal’s worries.
In the defeat, goalie Carey Price was forced to sit out the third period. A collision with New York left wing Chris Kreider put Price on the bench with a knee injury, and the ailment will keep him out for the rest of the series.
"I'm really disappointed," Montreal head coach Michel Therrien said. "Obviously he's our best player. Looking at the incident, it's a reckless play. That's the truth."
Kreider said the play was an accident, claiming he didn’t try to hurt Price. No matter his intention, the Rangers now have the clear advantage in goal. Price was one of the NHL’s best goaltenders in the regular season, ranking third with a 92.7 save percentage. He had an even higher save percentage in the second round, limiting the Boston Bruins to one goal in Games Six and Seven.
Therrien has not announced who will take Price’s place. Backup Peter Budaj has more experience Dustin Tokarski, who has only played in 10 games. The veteran shut out New York in October and finished the season with a 90.9 save percentage. In Game One, however, Budaj didn’t give the Canadiens any chance to mount a comeback. He stopped just five of eight shots, after replacing Price for the final 20 minutes.
Henrik Lunqvist continues to play well in the playoffs. New York's goalie stopped 20 shots on Saturday, and is allowing less than two goals per game this postseason. In the final three games of the second round, he surrendered just three total goals to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Game One victory was an encouraging sign for the Rangers goalie. He’s had his struggles against the Canadiens, failing to win in Montreal since 2009.
“You guys like to talk about (my struggles in Montreal),” Lundqvist told the media. “You like to ask me about it. I haven’t played here in a while, but it’s still the same game. Last time I played here, we had a different team, and I think I’ve grown as a goalie, as well.”
Despite Lundqvist’s past, New York might prefer to play in Montreal. They’ve been exceptional on the road, recording five of their nine playoff wins away from Madison Square Garden.
With Price out of the lineup, the Canadiens are no longer favored at home. The oddsmakers at Las Vegas casinos have deemed Game Two a toss-up. Before it was announced that Price wouldn’t play, the Rangers were slight underdogs.
Player To Watch: Peter Budaj/Dustin Tokarski
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Place: Bell Centre
TV Channel: NBC Sports Network
Online Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
Betting Odds: Montreal -110, New York -110
Prediction: New York 4, Montreal 2