NHL: New York Rangers Advance to Stanley Cup Final
Thursday night saw New York’s most crucial game in decades, and for the first time in 20 years the Rangers advanced to the Stanley Cup Final.
A second period goal helped the Rangers gain a small lead over the Canadiens, and New York went on to clinch a 1-0 victory.
After trailing against the Penguins three games to one in the previous series, the Rangers fought back when most people thought they would be eliminated. They carried the momentum, and emotion, from last series into the Eastern Conference Final.
Game six was the slowest game of the series, and didn’t see a goal until there were less than two minutes left in the second period. Brian Boyle sent the puck to Dominic Moore, who earned the Rangers their winning goal and his first goal of the series.
“Tonight was a perfect example of the team we have,” Moore explained about his team’s conference winning performance. “All the little things throughout the game that needed to be done, we did them.”
New York’s offense had plenty of opportunities, outshooting Montreal 32-18, but had a lot of trouble getting the puck past rookie Dustin Tokarski. After the Carey Price injury in game one, Tokarski took over as goaltender and proved to be the best choice the Canadiens could have made. The large amount of pressure coming from New York wasn’t enough to phase the young goalie.
Montreal had an opportunity to tie the game shortly after trailing by one, but Henrik Lundqvist made a game saving block, living up to his title as The King. The stick-throwing, acrobatic second period save helped the Rangers keep their small lead the remainder of the game.
Thursday night marked the ninth career postseason shutout for Lundqvist, and second career playoff shutout in a series clinching game. After making 18 saves on the night, The King also set a Rangers record with 42 postseason wins.
With two minutes left in the game, the Canadiens fought for a chance to play a game seven. Tokarski was pulled with two minutes left in the game. The Rangers kept the puck away from Montreal a majority of the time, and the Canadiens extra attacker didn’t prove to make a difference.
The Rangers will go on to face the winner of the Chicago Blackhawks vs. Los Angeles Kings Western Conference Final. Game one of the Stanley Cup Final will be played next Wednesday, home-ice advantage determined by regular-season point total.