A capsule look at the NHL’s Eastern Conference finals:
MONTREAL vs. NEW YORK RANGERS
SO FAR: The Canadiens beat Boston in seven games in the second round after sweeping Tampa Bay. The Rangers eliminated Pittsburgh in seven games following a seven-game series in the first round against Philadelphia.
SEASON SERIES: Montreal won 2-1. The Canadiens, with backup goaltender Peter Budaj, took the series opener 2-0 in October against Henrik Lundqvist. New York’s backup in net, Cam Talbot, lifted New York to a 1-0 win in November with former Rangers forward Ryan Callahan scoring the only goal. Carey Price had a 41-save shutout and Brian Gionta scored on a penalty shot in overtime against Talbot to give Montreal a 1-0 victory last month.
STORY LINE: The Original Six franchises are four wins away from ending a long drought. Montreal has not reached the Stanley Cup finals since winning it all in 1993. The Rangers have not hoisted the Cup since 1994 in their last trip to the finals. New York will have to win on the road to advance, something it has rarely done against the Canadiens. The Rangers have won just two of their last 13 games at Montreal and have been shut out six times during the poor stretch.
MONTREAL’S KEY PLAYER: P.K. Subban. The defenseman has a team-high 12 points in the playoffs, taking advantage of power plays with three goals and four assists with an extra skater. Subban’s right handed shot, passing touch and 6-foot, 217-pound body have been big assets for the Canadiens.
NEW YORK’S KEY PLAYER: Lundqvist. He became the first goaltender to win five Game 7s in a row, making 35 saves to help the Rangers eliminate Pittsburgh, surpassing the record shared by Ed Belfour, Patrick Roy and Cam Ward. Lundqvist is giving up less than a goal on average in those decisive victories
PREDICTION: Canadiens in 7.
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