By Dan Mount, Contributing Writer
After a number of chances, Martin St. Louis would not be denied.
The 38 year-old left winger scored 6:02 into overtime to give the New York Rangers a 3-2 overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens in game four of the Eastern Conference final Sunday night at Madison Square Garden to give the Rangers a 3-1 series lead.
This was the second straight overtime game at MSG as Montreal won game three, 3-2, on Thursday thanks to a goal that deflected off of the head of Alex Galchenyuk.
The Rangers are one game away from booking their first trip to the Stanley Cup final since 1994. They can close out the series with a victory 8 p.m. on Tuesday at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
New York received goals from Carl Hagelin and Derick Brassard, who returned after missing the previous two games with a shoulder injury. Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves in net for the Rangers.
Montreal got markers from Francis Bouillon and a game-tying goal by defenseman P.K. Subban. Justin Tokarski turned aside 26 shots in his third start of the series in relief of injured Olympic gold medal goalie Carey Price.
Penalties were the story of the game as the Rangers committed seven penalties in the offensive zone and spent 14-and-a-half minutes on the penalty kill. Montreal cashed in only one of the eight extra man-chances on Subban’s goal two minutes into the third period.
Hagelin gave the Rangers the lead seven minutes, 18 seconds into the first with a shorthanded-goal, but the Canadiens tied it on a soft goal by Bouillon early in the second.
Brassard, who left 35 seconds into game one after a hard check from Mike Weaver, fired a hard slap shot past Tokarski to give New York a 2-1 lead after forty minutes. However, that lead was short-lived as Subban scored to force overtime.
St. Louis had several chances to score on the Habs’ rookie goalie, but was denied several times before scoring his sixth goal of the postseason. It was St. Louis’ 39th playoff goal of his illustrious career. St. Louis came over in a trade deadline-deal that sent him to New York in exchange for former captain Ryan Callahan and a couple of draft picks.
Lundqvist also reached a milestone of his own by notching his 41st career postseason victory, which tied Ranger great Mike Richter for the franchise record.
The Rangers took advantage of several defensive miscues by the other Canadiens’ defensive pairings that weren’t Subban or his partner Josh Georges. St. Louis’ goal came about when the Habs lost the puck and Hagelin slid a diagonal pass to St. Louis, who roofed the shot over the shoulder of Tokarski.
In the postgame press conference, Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said that St. Louis “practiced that shot at least 50 times” after practice. Vigneault also stated the penalties were all legitimate and had no complaints about the calls, although Lundqvist questioned some of the calls to members of the media.