MONTREAL -- Before his team took the ice in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Rangers, Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin -- a former Blackhawk who now sits in an office overlooking the church where he played youth hockey -- talked about how much the Canadiens mean to his hometown of Montreal.
"They live and breathe hockey. This is what it's all about," Bergevin said. "Coming from Chicago, you have the White Sox, the Bears, the Bulls. This is all in one and it is their team. They love their team."
There almost was nothing to love about the Canadiens on Saturday.
The Rangers stomped the Canadiens, 7-2, rendering the once raucous Bell Centre crowd as mute as a French mime thanks to a stretch of five goals in 5 minutes, 37 seconds against two goaltenders late in the second period and early in the third.
"We got our asses kicked all over the ice," said winger Rene Bourque, who scored one of the Canadiens' two goals. "There's really no other way to explain it."
But the Canadiens did their best to explain it after the game -- in two languages.
"That's not our hockey team that played (Saturday)," defenseman P.K. Subban said. "We know we're a different team than that, and we can be a lot better."
Subban pointed to the second period as evidence the Canadiens had the will to compete. They controlled the action for 18 minutes and pulled within 2-1 on Bourque's goal, but they allowed two soft goals in the final 1:01 of the period to Chris Kreider and Brad Richards.
The Rangers poured it on from there, scoring three goals in the first five minutes of the third after Peter Budaj replaced Carey Price in the net. By 4:36 of the third period, the Rangers led 7-1 and fans were heading out to catch a late lunch.
It was such a beatdown that defenseman Mike Weaver stopped counting Rangers goals.
"I don't know what the score was. I lost track of it," Weaver said. "It doesn't really matter in Game 2. I think I'm going to just forget about this completely. There's nothing we can take from that game that's going to help us."
The Rangers got goals from seven players, including Martin St. Louis, who will attend his mother's funeral Sunday just outside Montreal. The Rangers shook off the bugaboo of playing in the Bell Centre, where they were 1-7-2 in their last 10 games.
"We're obviously going to play a few games here and we've got to go out, focus and do our job. You can't think about the surroundings," said defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who scored a goal. "We're really not thinking about that anymore."
Along those lines, the Canadiens would like to obliterate what happened Saturday from their minds.
"We weren't ready," Subban said. "It's as simple as that."
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