MONTREAL -- The New York Rangers blew past the Montreal Canadians in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final Saturday at Bell Centre.
Goals 51 seconds apart late in the second period by winger Chris Kreider and center Brad Richards helped turn a 2-1 Rangers lead into a convincing 7-2 victory in a building that went from very loud to quite quiet over the course of three hours.
Defenseman Ryan McDonagh, center Derek Stepan and wingers Martin St. Louis, Mats Zuccarrello and Rick Nash had the other Rangers goals. McDonagh added three assists for a four-point game, while Zuccarello also had a couple of helpers.
Winger Rene Bourque had center Lars Eller had the Montreal goals.
Despite facing only 22 shots, Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist was outstanding, particularly in the second period with the game still on the line.
Canadiens goalie Carey Price was lifted after two periods, during which he gave up four goals on 20 shots. He was replaced by goalie Peter Budaj, who made five saves.
St. Louis opened the scoring on New York's fifth shot after being set up by a backhand pass from center Dominic Moore at 4:35 of the first period.
Zuccarello struck 1:52 later when he relayed home a nice feed from McDonagh after Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban chased Moore behind the net.
Bourque made it close with a chip shot over Lundqvist's right shoulder 12:38 into the second, a goal that whipped the Bell Centre faithful into a frenzy and give the Canadiens some life.
But at every turn, Lundqvist was there to stop them. He robbed winger Max Pacioretty twice in the middle frame, and also made a big blocker save against Subban.
Kreider scored after being sent in on a breakaway by Nash with 61 seconds left in the second. And then, with 11.6 seconds left, Zuccarello set up Richards' goal with a pass from behind the net to make it 4-1.
The Montreal meltdown continued in the third, as McDonagh, Stepan and Nash each scored on the power play.
The Rangers lost center Derick Brassard in the first period when he sustained an upper-body injury after being hit by Canadiens defenseman Mike Weaver.
Game 2 of the series will be played Monday night in Montreal.
NOTES: The Canadiens are one of only three teams against which Rangers G Henrik Lundqvist has a regular season career save percentage under .900. Minnesota and Calgary are the other two. Since his last regular season victory at Bell Centre, Lundqvist was 0-3-1 with a 4.63 goals against average and a .862 save percentage. ... Canadiens G Carey Price clutched his right leg when Rangers W Chris Kreider crashed into him during a breakaway in the fourth minute of the second period. Price, who was slow to get up but stayed in the game, entered the day with a 4-1-0 record and a .986 save percentage in his previous five outings against the Rangers. ... Rangers W Rick Nash broke the longest goal-less funk of his career. He hadn't scored in 15 games, dating to an April 10 regular season contest against the Buffalo Sabres. Nash's last playoff goal was May 19, 2013, against the Boston Bruins, a postseason drought of 17 games. In 30 career playoff games, Nash had two goals. ... The second period goal by Canadiens W Rene Bourque was his fifth of the playoffs. Bourque had only nine goals in 63 regular season games.