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Lundqvist, Rangers send Canadiens home, head to Final
The New York Rangers celebrate beating the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 in game six of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. (Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)
Defenseman Ryan McDonagh notched an assist for his 10th point of the series and Brian Boyle also helped set up Moore's goal for the Rangers, who will face the winner of the Western Conference final pitting the last two Stanley Cup champions in Los Angeles and reigning winner Chicago. Alternate captains Brad Richards, Dan Girardi and Marc Staal accepted the Prince of Wales Trophy in lieu of former captain Ryan Callahan being dealt to Tampa Bay for Martin St. Louis at the league's trade deadline.
After yielding four goals en route to an early exit in the last contest, Lundqvist (18 saves) redeemed himself in impressive fashion on Thursday. The Swedish Olympian kept the game scoreless late in the second period by making a tremendous off-balance save with his blocker after Thomas Vanek's attempted cross-crease feed to Michael Bournival caromed off the stick of Girardi.
Spurred by the sprawling save, New York upped the intensity and snapped the scoreless draw with 1:53 remaining in the second. Boyle settled the puck below the end line and immediately whirled it into the low slot for Moore, who beat Dustin Tokarski (31 saves) inside the left post for his third goal of the playoffs.
The Rangers took the fight to the Canadiens in the third, outshooting them by a 13-5 margin. Tokarski denied Derick Brassard's blast on a breakaway with 2:22 to play and Montreal pulled the netminder for an extra attacker 29 seconds later, but to no avail as Lundqvist secured his first shutout of the 2014 playoffs.
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GAME NOTEBOOK: The Rangers posted a pair of one-goal victories over the Blackhawks in the regular season while splitting two contests with the Kings. ... New York's Raphael Diaz was inserted into the lineup to replace fellow D John Moore, who was serving the first contest of his two-game suspension for his hit on Montreal RW Dale Weise. The 25-year-old Weise sat out Game 6 with a "body injury", but Canadiens RW Brandon Prust returned after serving his two-game suspension for his hit on Rangers C Derek Stepan. ... Alex Kovalev, who played for both teams during his NHL career, was shown on the Jumbotron and promptly unzipped his jacket to reveal a 1994 Stanley Cup T-shirt. New York defeated Vancouver in seven games to capture the championship that year. ... NHL Hall-of-Famers Mike Gartner and Brad Park, as well as former Mets and Yankees OF Darryl Strawberry, were in attendance at Madison Square Garden.