Hockey / Sports

Rangers' St. Louis staying strong

MONTREAL -- Hockey players are used to playing through physical pain in the playoffs.

But Martin St. Louis has had quite the mental burden to bear in recent weeks, not missing a game following the unexpected death of his mother, France, on May 8.

On Sunday, the Rangers will accompany St. Louis to his mother's funeral just outside of Montreal. Saturday, he kept playing through the emotional pain -- and playing well.

St. Louis scored in the first period to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead on their way to a 7-2 victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals over the Canadiens. It was his fourth goal of the playoffs.

"It's been an emotional time for everybody," St. Louis said. "The guys have been behind me and supporting me. Their effort is unbelievable. We feel really close right now, and we're trying to keep feeding off that."

St. Louis scored near the left post off a nifty feed from Dominic Moore, who also has dealt recently with losing a loved one. Moore's wife, Katie, died in January 2013 from liver cancer.

"(St. Louis) has handled it in an incredible way that probably has helped our team come closer together," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "(Sunday) is going to be a tough day for our group, but we need to be there to support him."

Brassard leaves game: Rangers center Derick Brassard left the game in the first period after taking a hard hit from Canadiens defenseman Mike Weaver. Vigneault said Brassard was "day to day" and when asked if the injury was upper or lower body, Vigneault said: "Pick one."

Brassard told reporters after the game his injury was "not serious."

Price yanked: Canadiens coach Michel Therrien replaced starting goaltender Carey Price with Peter Budaj after Price allowed four goals in the first two periods. Late in the second period, Rangers defenseman Chris Kreider slid into Price, who came up holding his right leg but remained in the game until the start of the third.

Therrien said he thought Kreider's play was accidental but was vague on how hurt Carey might be.

"The fact that he didn't play in the third period was more to protect him than anything because we were not sharp in front of him," Therrien said.

(c)2014 Chicago Tribune

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