Rangers smash Canadiens 7-2, take Game 1 of Eastern Conference Final

Thomas Drance
Eric Bolte / USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers put in a commanding performance on Saturday afternoon, romping to a convincing 7-2 blowout of the Montreal Canadiens in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final.

The Rangers came out flying, juggled their lines in the absence of skilled forward Derick Brassard, who left the game with an apparent back-injury, and built an early 2-0 lead with goals by Martin St. Louis and Mats Zuccarello. Fourth-line staple Dominic Moore, playing up the lineup in Brassard's absence, set up both of New York's first period tallies.

The Canadiens answered in the second period when the officials missed an obvious too many men on the ice penalty, and Rene Bourque capitalized on a loose puck in the slot shortly thereafter. But the Rangers would put the game away shortly thereafter, scoring two goals in the final 61 seconds of the second period and chasing Canadiens netminder Carey Price, who may have sustained an injury on a collision with Chris Kreider, from the game.

In the third period, the contest continued to get out of hand. New York scored three goals in the period's opening five minutes, including two power-play markers just 25 seconds apart. Rick Nash scored his first of the playoffs and Ryan McDonagh tied a Rangers playoff record with four points in the contest.

Game 2 goes Monday at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Star performer

McDonagh, the one-time Canadiens prospect, had a four-point game with a goal and three assists. That's cool and all, but Rangers forward Chris Kreider was all over the ice and had a singular impact on the outcome of this contest and maybe the series itself. Kreider may have injured Carey Price in the second period and later in the frame scored a stunning insurance marker:

[Courtesy: NHL.com]

Turning point

Kreider's second period goal was big, but when Brad Richards finished off an extraordinarily clever Mats Zuccarello pass with just 12 seconds remaining in the second period, this game was placed out of reach:

[Courtesy: NHL.com]

Highlight reel

A daring P.K. Subban end-to-end rush combined with a perfect Henrik Lundqvist glove save. What's better than that? 

[Courtesy: NHL.com]

Quote of the Night

Series at a glance

Game 1: Rangers 7, Canadiens 2 (Rangers lead 1-0)
Game 2: Monday, May 19 - 8:00 p.m. ET
Game 3: Thursday, May 22 - 8:00 p.m. ET
Game 4: Sunday, May 25 - 8:00 p.m. ET
Game 5*: Tuesday, May 27 - 8:00 p.m. ET
Game 6*: Thursday, May 29 - 8:00 p.m. ET
Game 7*: Saturday, May 31 - 8:00 p.m. ET