Hockey / Sports

Rangers top Canadiens in OT, take 3-1 series lead

NEW YORK -- For the 72 hours that came between Games 3 and 4 of the Eastern Conference finals, the Canadiens and Rangers certainly made life easy for the back page editors of the New York tabloids.

Each day contained some new plot twist, fitting for a series that is taking place just blocks from Broadway.

The cacophony grew so loud before Game 4 -- with accusations of coach spying and players embellishing injuries -- that talk of actual hockey was almost nonexistent.

The teams got back to that end of business Sunday night with the Rangers taking the game 3-2 on a goal from Martin St. Louis 6 minutes, 2 seconds into overtime. With the victory, the Rangers lead the series 3-1 and can wrap it up by beating the Canadiens in Montreal on Tuesday in Game 5.

At first, the Canadiens had a miserable time on the power play -- so miserable that they allowed the Rangers to score their first short-handed goal in the playoffs since 2008.

Brian Boyle found a streaking Carl Hagelin, who skirted behind the Canadiens defense and put a breakaway shot through the legs of Canadiens goaltender Dustin Tokarski for a 1-0 lead.

For the period, the Canadiens generated little in the way of serious chances against Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

But that wasn't the case in the second period. The Canadiens tied it on Francis Bouillon's second goal of the playoffs. Bouillon's goal came on a 2-on-1 at 8:08 and was set up with good puck movement from David Desharnais and Rene Bourque.

But the Rangers answered with a goal from the returning Derick Brassard, who played for the first time since Game 1, late in the period. After Tokarski made one spectacular save after another in the period, the Rangers finally cracked him as Brassard rifled a shot from in close after taking a stretch pass from Dan Girardi.

The Canadiens' power play finally snapped back to life early in the third period, with Subban ending an 0-for-14 drought in the series by blasting a shot from the point past Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

While Brassard was back, the Rangers played without center Derick Stepan as Stepan recovered at home following surgery to mend a broken jaw he suffered on a hit by Brandon Prust in Game 3.

Canadiens center Daniel Briere said he found Stepan's injury "fishy," only adding more fuel to an already potent fire before Game 4. But before Game 4, Canadiens winger Max Pacioretty said the team couldn't afford to get sidetracked in a war of words.

"People talk about the noise, the injuries and back-and-forth words, but we just have to worry about our game," Pacioretty said. "In the past, this team has run into trouble when we worry about things we can't control."

The Rangers' Chris Kreider had a similar view.

"It's chatter," Kreider said. "Game's played out on the ice."

And the Rangers prevailed on that ice.

(c)2014 Chicago Tribune

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