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By Harry Allison

Mats Zuccarello scored two goals for the New York Rangers in a series-ending 3-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference series at Madison Square Garden yesterday.

New York won the best-of-7 series 4-2 and will play either the Ottawa Senators or Boston Bruins in the second round.

Derek Stepan scored an empty-net goal, and Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves for the Rangers, including 10 in the first period. Lundqvist allowed 11 goals in the six games.

“It was a good-fought series there, a tough one,” Zuccarello said. “Montreal played great, a tough team to play against. They made it hard for us, but we have a tough team in here. [Lundqvist] is unbelievable and we stick together. Our [defensemen], they play unbelievable. They block shots, they stand up every hit, and it’s amazing to have those guys behind us. The way that [Dan Girardi], [Ryan McDonagh], [Marc Staal] and those guys step up and take a hit, make a play and block some shots, it’s inspiring for us forwards.”

Alexei Emelin scored for Montreal, which held a 2-1 series lead before losing three in a row, including 3-2 in overtime in Game 5 on Thursday. Carey Price made 20 saves.

“It was a close series, so the undoing is probably the fact that it ended up that they scored more goals than us because they were all one-goal games in all of the wins,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. “We tried everything we could to score and we face a goaltender that is probably, without a doubt, their best player, and we couldn’t manage to get those goals.

“It wasn’t from lack of trying. We looked at our scoring chances and we looked at it after games and we probably had more than the other team, but they made the most out of theirs. The undoing was the fact that we probably needed a little luck to go with our efforts, and those two combined sometimes gives you the breaks that you’re looking for. It was a tough series, but it was a series where I really thought our players worked hard and competed as hard as they could.”

Zuccarello tied it 1-1 when he scored the Rangers’ first power-play goal of the series at 2:26 of the second period. With Jordie Benn in the penalty box for holding, Zuccarello took a shot from the right circle that squeaked past Price short-side.

“It was a good play,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “We had come close and got their goalie there cheating a little bit and we were able to put that one in. Obviously that gave us some momentum.”

Zuccarello scored his second of the game later in the second period, and Stepan scored an empty-net goal with 18 seconds remaining for a 3-1 lead.

Ottawa leads Boston 3-2 with Game 6 of their series today.

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