MONTREAL -- At first, it seemed the Canadiens had dodged the worst, but in truth, Carey Price was just delaying the devastation.
After Rangers center Chris Kreider slid into him in Game 1 after getting tripped on a breakaway, the Canadiens' goaltender skated around, shook off the injury and stayed in the game. But that sign of progress just put off the pain -- for Price and the Canadiens.
In a somber, defeated tone Monday, Canadiens coach Michel Therrien dropped the news that would have a resounding ripple effect on the rest of the Eastern Conference finals and possibly the Stanley Cup Final -- Price was done for the series and perhaps the rest of the playoffs.
Therrien said there was a chance Canada's gold-medal winner could return for the final, but the Canadiens have to get there first. They tried to move on in Game 2 without him by turning to 24-year-old Dustin Tokarski, who had played in only 10 NHL games.
But the Rangers got to Tokarski early and had enough firepower to overcome the fired-up Canadiens and a bloodthirsty crowd at the Bell Centre for a 3-1 victory and a 2-0 lead in the series. Game 3 is Thursday in New York.
Tokarski made 27 saves, but he was upstaged by a stellar performance from the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist, who made 40.
"I thought (Tokarski) did a good job," Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban said. "He gave us an opportunity to win the hockey game and that's all you can ask for from a guy like that. ... Goaltending is not an issue for us right now."
Getting the puck past Lundqvist was. Meanwhile, the Rangers went about their business unfazed by the delirious crowd and a strong start from by Canadiens.
Ryan McDonagh scored 17 seconds after Max Pacioretty gave the Canadiens a 1-0 lead in the first period on a shot that deflected off Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges, off the left post and into the net.
Then late in the period, Kreider, who was booed every time he touched the puck, passed to Rick Nash on an odd-man rush. Nash one-timed the puck past Tokarski's glove -- a save opportunity Tokarski wanted to try again.
"I was expecting him to hold on to it a bit more and he caught me off guard," Tokarski said.
Martin St. Louis added a second-period goal on a Rangers power play. Therrien said he was pleased with Tokarski's performance but was noncommittal on sticking with him for Game 3 over Peter Budaj, who replaced Price in Game 1.
"He did really well," Therrien said. "I'm pleased with our decision."
But it wasn't good enough Monday night. And the Rangers are now threatening to run away with the series.
"We're not out of it," Gorges said. "But we're going to go to New York to fight for our lives."
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