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Cullen: Rangers win in OT, push Habs to the brink

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Scott Cullen
5/26/2014 12:33:02 AM
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Martin St. Louis scored in overtime to give the New York Rangers a 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Final. The Rangers are now one win away from their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final since winning in 1994.

St. Louis, who has 13 points in 18 postseason games this year, has 81 points in 81 career playoff games, his 1.00 points per game in the playoffs ranks fifth among active skaters. He currently has seven points during a six-game point streak and had a game-high nine shot attempts.

On the winning goal, the Canadiens failed to clear the zone several times and Rangers LW Carl Hagelin found St. Louis wide open on the right wing. St. Louis took his time and picked the top corner on the short side. Hagelin, who scored a shorthanded goal earlier in the game, has tied St. Louis for the team lead with six goals in the playoffs.

Rangers C Derick Brassard returned to the lineup, after missing a couple of games due to injury, scored a goal and was dominant in the faceoff circle, winning 18 of 24 draws (75.0%). He was also one of three Rangers (Derek Dorsett, Benoit Pouliot) on the ice for more than 70% of 5-on-5 shot attempts.

Both teams had 29 shots on goal (and 56 shot attempts overall), but the Rangers had better possession numbers at even-strength. They had to because the Canadiens had eight power plays to the Rangers' three. The Canadiens did manage to get their first power play goal of the series -- initially credited to P.K. Subban, but sure appeared to be deflected by RW Brendan Gallagher -- but the Habs are 1-for-17 (5.9%) in the series and they are going to be hard-pressed to beat the Rangers without an effective power play.

Subban played a game-high 33:16, with 12:51 coming on the power play. Game One against Boston, a Double-OT win when he played 33:49, is the only game this season in which Subban played more than he did in Game Four against the Rangers.

Canadiens C David Desharnais, who had three assists in the previous 12 games, did record assists on both of Montreal's goals, though Desharnais, along with linemates Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher, were all on for one-third or less of the 5-on-5 shot attempts. Pacioretty didn't register a shot on goal, with one shot blocked counting as his only attempt in 21:47 of ice time.

G Dustin Tokarski stopped 26 of 29 Rangers shots. While he went down too early on the winning goal, Tokarski made a number of quality stops and gave the Canadiens a chance to win. He has a .917 save percentage in three games, which is good, but not good enough to overtake the Rangers when Henrik Lundqvist is on top of his game. Lundqvist has a playoff-leading .931 save percentage in 18 playoff games.

With C Derek Stepan out due to a broken jaw and LW Dan Carcillo suspended, the Rangers turned to rookie LW J.T. Miller, but Miller ended up playing only 3:09, knocked out of the game for some time by an Andrei Markov hit that drove him into the Canadiens' net. Miller didn't play from the midpoint of the second period until taking a shift in overtime.

Inserted into the Montreal lineup for a suspended Brandon Prust, LW Michael Bournival played 8:42, lowest on the team, but had respectable possession numbers in that time.

It's not as if the Canadiens haven't had opportunities in this series. The possession numbers favour the Rangers, but only slightly, and if the Canadiens' power play starts clicking, then maybe they could turn the tide. It will have to start with Game Five, in Montreal, but to do it three times in a row is a tall order, indeed.

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.

Hagelin and St. Louis (Photo: Canadian Press)

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(Photo: Canadian Press)
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