MONTREAL — Henrik Lundqvist has the surging New York Rangers two wins from the Stanley Cup finals.
Lundqvist made 40 saves and the Rangers took control of the Eastern Conference final with a 3-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night.
The Rangers lead the best-of-seven series 2-0 heading back to New York for Game 3 on Thursday and Game 4 on Sunday.
“I thought we played well, and the only reason we lost was Lundqvist,” Montreal coach Michel Therrien said. “He stole that game.”
The Canadiens, missing star goalie Carey Price because of an injury, came out strong in a bid get past a 7-2 thumping in the series opener only to run into Lundqvist.
Lundqvist, who was bested by Price at the Sochi Olympics as Canada beat Sweden in the final, has allowed only three goals on 63 shots in the series.
The Canadiens got the opening goal at 6:14 of the first from Max Pacioretty, but Ryan McDonagh tied it 17 seconds later on a shot that went in off defenseman Josh Gorges and a post.
“We knew they were going to come hard, but we put ourselves in a tough spot there by not getting pucks out,” Lundqvist said. “They were all over us.
“But to tie it up quickly like that, I think that was important to kind of even out the momentum a little bit.”
Rick Nash and Martin St. Louis also scored on Dustin Tokarski, the surprise starter for Montreal ahead of regular backup Peter Budaj.
St. Louis scored a day after he and his teammates attended the funeral of his mother, who died just before Mother’s Day. The Rangers have rallied around the grieving veteran and have won five in a row since her death.
“It’s been an emotional weekend,” St. Louis said. “I’ll definitely never forget this weekend for many reasons, but I think the grieving process will still take a while.
“But that stuff is behind me. Tonight, we wanted to make sure we’d have the emotion we’d need to win this game because we knew they would come out hard, especially rallying, losing their best player, so I thought we answered.”
Tokarski looked shaky at times, but had no chance on two of the Rangers’ goals.
“It was a lot of fun,” Tokarski said after his first NHL playoff start. “There was a lot of adrenaline. You grow up as a kid wanting to play in the playoffs, and I got the opportunity and just came up a bit short.”