Lundqvist an­swers Bell with shutout

Rangers goal­tender dis­pels no­tion he would have trou­ble in Mon­treal arena

Toronto Star - - SPORTS - BILL BEA­CON THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

MON­TREAL— Any trou­bles Hen­rik Lundqvist has had with the Mon­treal Cana­di­ens were nowhere to be found in the open­ing game of the NHL play­offs.

The vet­eran goal­tender sur­vived a shaky first pe­riod to post a 31-save shutout as the New York Rangers topped Mon­treal 2-0 on Wed­nes­day night.

It will be up to the Cana­di­ens to come up with an an­swer in Game 2 on Fri­day night at Bell Cen­tre, or risk head­ing to New York down two games in the best-of-seven se­ries.

“We didn’t put out there that Hank (Lundqvist) is go­ing to have a hard time here,” said New York coach Alain Vigneault. “We’ve al­ways had a lot of con­fi­dence in his game and what he did tonight was what we ex­pected.” Mon­treal went 3-0-0 against Lundqvist and the Rangers in the reg­u­lar sea­son, con­tin­u­ing the trend of the last two sea­sons in which Carey Price has shone against the Blueshirts while Lundqvist laboured. But the same may not ap­ply in the post-sea­son. When New York knocked off the Cana­di­ens in six games in 2014, a se­ries in which Price was in­jured in the open­ing game, Lundqvist was pulled for Game 5 but bounced back with a Game 6 shutout.

His clean sheet in the opener put him in the ca­reer lead among ac­tive NHL goalies with 10.

“We know Hank’s go­ing to bring it,” said Rangers cap­tain Ryan McDon­agh. “His fo­cus and de­ter­mi­na­tion re­ally fed to the rest of the team.”

Mon­treal pulled Price late in the third, but Michael Grab­ner set­tled the is­sue with an empty-net goal with 1:10 left to play.

Shots were 31-31 in a fast-paced game with plenty of chances at both ends. Lundqvist looked to be fight­ing the puck as Mon­treal had a 16-5 first­pe­riod shot ad­van­tage but man­aged to keep it out if his net.

Fired up by 1960s pop star Ginette Reno’s na­tional an­them, the Cana­di­ens were all over New York, but it was the Rangers who struck first 9:50 into the game on only their third shot. To­mas Plekanec won a draw in the Mon­treal zone, but fourth line winger Tan­ner Glass pounced on it and lifted a back­hand from the slot over Price’s shoul­der.

“Cer­tainly a goal helped to set­tle us down and get back to the fo­cus and mak­ing the plays we needed to make,” said McDon­agh. “A great play by (Glass). It’s just work­ing hard. It’s great to see him get re­warded there.”

Mon­treal coach Claude Julien wants to make “lit­tle ad­just­ments” for Game 2.

“We can def­i­nitely get bet­ter in the board bat­tles,” said Julien. “Lit­tle de­tails here and there made the dif­fer­ence.

SEAN KIL­PATRICK/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Bos­ton‘s Brad Marchand and Ot­tawa’s Dion Pha­neuf get tan­gled up Wed­nes­day. Marchand scored the win­ner in a 2-1 rally past the Se­na­tors.

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