MONTREAL — Martin St. Louis started the scoring and Henrik Lundqvist posted his first win in Montreal in more than two years and the New York Rangers routed the Canadiens 7-2 to open the NHL Eastern Conference final on Saturday afternoon.
St. Louis, who is scheduled to attend his mother’s funeral with his teammates on Sunday, got the opening goal before Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, Brad Richards, Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan and Rick Nash also scored for the Rangers. New York had scored only four goals in its past nine regular-season visits to the Bell Centre.
Rene Bourque and Lars Eller scored for Montreal, which saw star goalie Carey Price apparently injure his right leg when he was run over early in the second period. Price was replaced by Peter Budaj after the second period but it was not clear if it was because of an injury.
It was Montreal’s worst playoff defeat since losing 8-2 to Carolina in 2002.
Budaj was beaten on the first shot he faced, from the slot by McDonagh on a power play at 1:28.
The Canadiens then took a succession of penalties, including two minors and a misconduct to former Ranger Brandon Prust. Stepan scored and Nash broke his slump with his first in 15 games in this year’s playoffs.
Montreal got one back while short-handed with 4:38 left in the game when Eller beat Lundqvist with a quick, high shot from the slot.
That St. Louis got the Rangers started was fitting. He became a rallying point for his team for playing a day after his mother France’s death as they erased a 3-1 series deficit to beat Pittsburgh in the second round.
The boost the Canadiens got from their rousing pregame ceremonies in the first two series wasn’t there as the Rangers showed all the speed and intensity in the opening period, outshooting Montreal 12-6 and taking a 2-0 lead.
Lundqvist had not played a game in Montreal since allowing four goals on Jan. 15, 2012. His last win there was March 17, 2009. He made 20 saves.