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By Mary Cunningham
Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers made the most of a goal from an unexpected source to start the Stanley Cup Playoffs on a winning note.
Lundqvist had 31 saves, and Tanner Glass scored in the first period to lift the Rangers to a 2-0 victory against the Montreal Canadiens in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Bell Centre last night.
It was Lundqvist’s 10th career playoff shutout in his 116th consecutive postseason start for the Rangers.
“I think this was one of our better games as a team in a long time,” said Lundqvist, whose 56 playoff wins lead active NHL goalies. “We had a plan going into this game how we needed to play and we executed it perfectly. Montreal is one of the better teams in their transition game. A lot of games we played up here, they beat us on odd-man rushes and breakaways. And today, we get the early goal and after that we played a smart game.”
Game 2 of the best-of-7 series is Friday in Montreal.
Glass scored one goal in 11 regular-season games for the Rangers after being recalled from Hartford of the American Hockey League on March 5.
“This is such a tough building to win in, and it’s important for us to have a good first period and a good first few shifts, and we were able to weather their storm early, and that first goal was big for us,” Glass said.
Michael Grabner scored into an empty net to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead with 1:10 remaining. It was his first NHL playoff goal since May 11, 2013, for the New York Islanders.
“We knew it was going to be a challenge,” Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh said. “It’s a talented group of forwards, a talented back end that plays with a lot of speed, so we tried to make sure we had good gap and didn’t allow them to carry it across the blue line a lot. I thought we had good structure in our own zone, blocked a lot of shots, and it’s the start of a long, challenging series here.”
Carey Price made 29 saves for Montreal, which finished in first place in the Atlantic Division.
Glass gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead when he scored an unassisted goal 9:50 into the game.
“He got a lot of wood on it, it was a pretty good shot,” Price said. “I didn’t really think at the time it was going to be the difference. You’ve got to give that team credit, they played pretty well, and I thought [Lundqvist] played outstanding.”
Montreal outshot New York 16-5 in the first period.