Martin St. Louis put New York within one win of the Stanley Cup Final, scoring 6:02 into overtime to give the Rangers a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals Sunday night.
A loose puck came to St. Louis, the Rangers’ inspirational postseason leader, alone in the right circle and he fired a snap shot over goalie Dustin Tokarski’s shoulder.
The Rangers, who lead the series 3-1, were forced to overtime for the second straight game despite holding a pair of one-goal leads. New York lost Game 3 at home.
Carl Hagelin put the Rangers in front with a short-handed goal in the first period, and Derick Brassard made it 2-1 in the second. Hagelin also assisted on St. Louis’ goal.
Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves and earned his 41st postseason win, tying the franchise record of Mike Richter, who was in attendance.
St. Louis and Hagelin both have a team-high six playoff goals.
The Rangers are 6-1 since the unexpected death of St. Louis’ mother galvanized the team.
Francis Bouillon tied it for Montreal in the second, and fellow defenseman P.K. Subban made it 2-2 in the third with a power-play goal. David Desharnais assisted on both for Montreal. Tokarski stopped 26 shots for the Canadiens, who went 1 for 8 on the power play.
New York can advance to the final with a win at Montreal in Game 5 on Tuesday night. The Rangers won the first two games of this series there.
Though there were 13 minor penalties, there was no carry-over of the nastiness in Game 3 when a hit by Montreal’s Brandon Prust broke the jaw of New York forward Derek Stepan. Prust served the first game of a two-game suspension. Stepan sat out after having surgery.
The Rangers gave Montreal five power plays through the first two periods, and New York’s penalty-killers stood tall as they have for most of the playoffs. But the sixth Canadiens advantage produced the tying goal 2 minutes into the third when Subban scored his first goal of the series and first point in six games.
That broke the Rangers’ run of 27 straight killed penalties, dating to Game 2 of the second round. New York turned aside Montreal moments later when Brad Richards was off for tripping.
Montreal came at the Rangers in waves for the remainder of the third period and nearly grabbed the lead when Alex Galchenyuk, who scored the overtime winner in Game 3, struck the crossbar with 3:17 left in regulation.