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Cullen: Rangers humble Habs in series opener

Scott Cullen
5/17/2014 11:40:21 PM
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The New York Rangers opened the Eastern Conference Final with a 7-2 win in Montreal, embarrassing the Canadiens on home ice to start the series.

Rangers D Ryan McDonagh led the way with a goal and three assists for the Blueshirts and, oh, that's not any kind of sore spot for the Canadiens. Remember, he was a first-round pick of the Canadiens in 2007 who was dealt to the Rangers as part of the deal to get (ahem) Scott Gomez. McDonagh only had three points, total, through the first two rounds, so the first four-point game of his 298-game (regular season and playoffs) career was a great start for the Rangers.

In a 7-2 rout, there were plenty of big contributors for the Rangers. The line of Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan and Rick Nash each had one goal and an assist. Yes, Nash scored his first goal in 15 playoff games this year, and Kreider, the rookie power forward was a tough match-up for the Canadiens. Nash and Kreider can be tough matchups if they're playing well and, for various reasons, haven't been major factors through the first couple rounds. Could be big trouble for Montreal if that's going to change now.

Martin St. Louis and Derek Stepan each had a goal and an assist and Dominic Moore chipped in a couple of assists, while Mats Zuccarello delivered a goal and two assists. Zuccarello is now the Rangers' leading scorer in the playoffs, with 11 points (4 G, 7 A) in 15 games, one ahead of St. Louis and Brad Richards. Richards scored a goal and registered a game-high 10 shot attempts.

The Canadiens were getting outplayed at 5-on-5, but the Rangers also had seven of the game's first eight power plays, with Montreal getting a couple of power plays in the last three-and-a-half minutes, long after the outcome was decided.

Coming off a series against Boston in which the Canadiens were obviously invested emotionally, they certainly appeared flat in Game One against the Rangers. G Carey Price, who has been great in the playoffs, was pulled between the second and third periods after allowing four goals on 20 shots. Only twice, in 70 (regular season plus playoff) games this season, did Price allow at least four goals with 16 or fewer saves.

Though his production was inconsequential, Canadiens C Lars Eller had a goal and an assist and he's the top scoring Montreal forward in the playoffs with five goals and 11 points in a dozen games.

One negative for the Rangers was that C Derick Brassard left the game early with an apparent back injury. He's considered day-to-day.

If the Canadiens are to take a positive from this debacle of a game, it is that it only counts as one loss. Forget Game One, come back fresh for Game Two because, really, what other option do they have?

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.




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