Hockey / Sports

Rangers edge out Canadiens, 1-0, to advance to Stanley Cup finals

NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers, a team that looked beatable before outlasting the Philadelphia Flyers in the opening round, continued their improbable journey Thursday night at frenzied Madison Square Garden.

The Blueshirts, sparked by Dominic Moore's goal and Henrik Lundqvist's goaltending, defeated the Montreal Canadiens, 1-0, and won the Eastern Conference finals four games to two.

The victory sends New York to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since Mark Messier and Co. won the crown in 1994, ending the Rangers' 54-year drought.

Though not tested much by a subdued Montreal attack, Lundqvist notched his 42nd playoff victory, a team record, and he bounced back from a rare subpar performance in Game 5. He made 18 saves. Long regarded as one of the NHL's top goalies, the 32-year-old Swede will be making his first Finals appearance.

Montreal failed to connect on a power play that carried into the first 1 minute, 47 seconds of the third period, making it 2 for 23 in the series.

Before this year' playoffs, the Rangers were 20-to-1 in Las Vegas to win the Stanley Cup.

When the finals begin Wednesday, the odds will have been reduced considerably, though the Rangers figure to be underdogs against either Los Angeles or Chicago.

The Kings lead the Western Conference finals three games to two and can advance with a win in Los Angeles on Friday.

New York, which needed seven games to beat the Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins in the first two rounds, outshot the Habs, 32-18. Montreal kept it close only because goalie Dustin Tokarski played superbly.

With their season on the line, the Canadiens were outshot, 13-5, in the third period.

The Rangers' fourth line has excelled in the playoffs, and it continued its magic in Game 6, giving New York a 1-0 lead late in the second period.

Brian Boyle, skating behind the net, found Moore open in the slot, and the hardworking center beat goalie Dustin Tokarski with 1 minute, 53 seconds left in the second. Boyle's pass got past defenseman Francis Bouillon and found Moore.

Early in the second, a few seconds after a power play ended, a left-circle shot by New York's Derek Stepan was deflected by Tokarski and bounced off the right post, keeping the game scoreless.

With 4:39 left in the second, Lundqvist made his best save of the night. Thomas Vanek's close-range shot deflected off New York defenseman Dan Girardi, and Lundqvist made a spinning waffleboard save before the puck could trickle into the net.

"Hen-rik, Hen-rik," Rangers fans shouted.

Montreal was on its heels as the Blueshirts dominated a scoreless opening period, outshooting the Canadiens, 11-5, and outhitting them, 14-7.

Only Tokarski's brilliant goaltending kept the game scoreless. The 24-year-old rookie, thrust into action in this series because of Carey Price's apparent knee injury, made several key saves, including a stop on Mats Zuccarello as he went in on a two-on-one after about 1 1/2 minutes. He also turned aside Chris Kreider's deflection in front, stopped Zuccarello's shot with his mask, and denied Boyle from point-blank range.

The Rangers had 11 of the game's first 12 shots.

Montreal's forecheck became more active in the second period, and it led to a handful of chances, but Lundqvist was not overly busy. Max Pacioretty did have a decent shorthanded chance with about 6 1/2 minutes left in the second, but Lundqvist gloved his left-circle shot.

The Canadiens got winger Brandon Prust back from a two-game suspension after a late hit that broke Stepan's jaw, while Rangers defenseman John Moore started a two-game suspension for a blindside shot to the head of Dale Weise.

(c)2014 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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