Every night during the playoffs, we will wrap up all the exciting action and tell you what you need to know about the 2013-14 Stanley Cup playoffs. Welcome to What You Need To Know.
Rangers win 7-2 | NYR leads series 1-0 | Game 2 Mon.
Montreal Canadiens: Coming off the emotional series win against their biggest rival could the Canadiens have been dealing with a bit of a playoffs hangover? No matter the reason, Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals was absolutely a letdown. With just over a minute to play in the second period, this game was 2-1. The Canadiens had looked poised for a comeback after falling into a 2-0 hole to the Rangers and seemed to get control. The Rangers then scored twice at the end of the second period and it was all over. It just got embarassing from there with three more goals against in the third. Aside from an 18-minute or so stretch in the second period, Montreal was just not very good. Part of it was on them, a lot of it was because the Rangers were just plain better. Now the Habs have to decide if this one crushes their spirits or they get really angry about it and go on a tear. They really could not have started this series worse.
New York Rangers: Did anyone see this coming? The Rangers absolutely steamrolled the Canadiens to earn a huge road win to start the series. They got out to an early 2-0 lead, controlled the first period and then relied more on Henrik Lundqvist in a sloppier second period. They still came out of the second with a 4-1 lead, notching two late goals. Then they scored three quick ones in the third period to ensure Game 1 was a rout. Every facet of the game from Lundqvist's goaltending, the play of their defense and the prolific scoring from the guys up front, was working. The entire lineup was involved. They might be a little relieved to have survived a heavy surge from the Habs in the second period, but the Blueshirts can remain confident having been the better team for the vast majority of the game. That was really something.
Play of the Game: This is one of the most breathtaking displays of speed you'll see and it ended up being a huge goal for the Rangers. Chris Kreider smoked the Habs defense and showed why the Rangers may be an incredibly dangerous team in transition this series. After getting to the open ice, Rick Nash hit Kreider with a perfect pass and the 23-year-old made sure to beat Carey Price with a well-placed shot. This made it a 3-1 game and took the wind out of the Habs' sails after their best stretch of Game 1.
Player of the Game: Well, this might rub a little salt in Montreal's wounds. Defenseman Ryan McDonagh, the former Canadiens first-round pick who was part of the infamous Scott Gomez trade that sent him to New York, had four points including a blistering one-timer goal 1:28 into the third period to put this game out of reach. McDonagh was a force all game, aiding the quick transition with good passing and putting up three assists while logging more than 23 minutes of ice time. From the drop of the puck, McDonagh was a factor. This could be a long series for the Habs if he manages to keep up this kind of play.
Turning Point: Kreider's goal seems about as important a moment as any in this game. The Canadiens had the better of the Rangers in the second period and were riding high after cutting the deficit to 2-1. It looked like the Habs would escape the second period with a rather small hill to climb to get back into the game. Kreider's remakable speed play and goal just knocked Montreal on its behind. Brad Richards scored just 49 seconds later to make it 4-1 and there was the dagger.
GIF of the Game: The refs had a tough day at the office, between missing a possible too-many-men penalty on Montreal's first goal to getting knocked around a bit. Here's linesman Steve Barton getting knocked into the Canadiens' bench. It was actually the second time in the game Barton ended up in the Habs bench. It's a tough, thankless job, but somebody's got to do it and I'm glad it's not me. GIF via @myregularface: