NEW YORK -- Moments before the Montreal Canadiens went back on the ice for the start of overtime, forward Daniel Briere delivered a speech to his teammates that carried a message they clearly understood: End the game quickly to crush any life that the New York Rangers might have gained from scoring late in regulation.
"It was too quick," Briere joked. "I didn't even get my shift in."
Alex Galchenyuk scored off a rebound 1:12 into overtime of Game 3 on Thursday at Madison Square Garden to lift the Canadiens to a 3-2 victory against the Rangers, whose lead in the Eastern Conference Final was cut to 2-1.
Game 4 of the best-of-7 series is Sunday at the Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
"[Briere] spoke up right before we went out and he said, 'Listen, overtime, it's in their building, they're emotionally high, scored a big goal, we gotta be ready at the start because you know they're going to come out hard and try to end it early,' " Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban said. "We had to be ready right from the start and I thought our first couple shifts, our first two shifts, were great. We put ourselves in a good position to win the hockey game."
In point of fact, goalie Dustin Tokarski put the Canadiens in position to win the hockey game.
The rookie, who was making his second straight start after the right knee injury to Carey Price knocked Montreal's No. 1 goalie out of the series, gave the Canadiens the type of goaltending they typically get from Price.
Tokarski made 35 saves, including 26 through two periods and 34 in regulation. The 24-year-old looked calm and composed in his first road game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He also didn't even have time to show if he was rattled by Chris Kreider's game-tying goal at 19:31 of the third period. Kreider's deflection of Dan Girardi's shot from the right circle hit off Montreal defenseman Alexei Emelin's right skate and went into the net.
The Canadiens took the intermission after the third period to regroup and listen to Briere. They came out strong in overtime and Galchenyuk ended it 72 seconds in when the rebound of Tomas Plekanec's shot from the top of the left circle caromed off him and went into the net.
Galchenyuk said he wasn't sure if the puck hit him or his stick. Replays showed it hit off his arm.
"I wasn't really happy with the way I played [Thursday night]," Galchenyuk said. "I was hoping I would get a bounce going my way and sure enough I did. I can't be more happy about it."
Kreider's game-tying goal came 2:33 after Briere was credited with a goal that went in off of Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh's skate as he slid into the crease.
Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who made 40 saves in Game 2, dealt with considerably less pressure Thursday. He faced 25 shots, stopping 22 of them.
"It's going to be tough for a couple of hours, but then you have to let [the loss] go," Lundqvist said. "That's part of playing in the playoffs, short memory, and win or lose you have to move on. We did so many good things, but it's about winning, finding ways to win games."
The Rangers had a 27-13 advantage in shots on goal entering the third period. It didn't matter. The game was tied at 1-1.
New York was plus-14 in shots on goal and plus-21 in shot attempts (52-31) through two periods, but Tokarski was excellent against some quality scoring chances and Montreal blocked 15 shots in front of him.
Montreal coach Michel Therrien used the same word to describe Tokarski's performance in Game 3 that he used to describe Lundqvist's performance in Game 2:
"Phenomenal," Therrien said.
That description was especially accurate in the first period, when the Rangers jumped on the Canadiens not only with the first goal, but with more puck possession leading to a 14-4 edge in shots on goal and a 25-12 margin in shot attempts despite the fact that they won only seven of 24 faceoffs.
"Without Tokarski's performance probably the result would have been different," Therrien said.
"It could have very easily been 3-0 or 4-0 after the first," Briere said. "He gave us a chance to stay in the game, to tie it up and even take the lead. We felt like we owed him one [in overtime]."
Stepan stayed down on the ice for several moments before he was escorted down the tunnel to the dressing room. Prust was not penalized for the hit, and Stepan returned to the bench during a television timeout at 8:15 of the first and resumed taking a regular shift.
Carcillo was being held back linesman Scott Driscoll as Dorsett and Prust were fighting. Carcillo physically attempted to get away from Driscoll, who was escorting him to the penalty box. He was assessed the minor for charging Prust and a game misconduct.
"He can't do, obviously, what he did there, but we'll let the League handle that," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said when asked if he's concerned about potential supplementary discipline for Carcillo. "I believe if a penalty would have been called on Prust, it probably wouldn't have happened, but there is nothing we can do about it."
The Rangers were still angry about Prust's hit on Stepan after the game.
"I never saw him," Stepan said. "Not from the time I got the puck to the time I moved it. I even got some strides in before I got hit and I still never saw him. The main focus is my head. It's the shoulder and there's a lunge there. We can pick it apart all we want, but at the end of the day we've got bigger things on our plate."
Thing like a series that just got interesting and an opposing goaltender proving to be worthy of playing in the conference final.
"Everything's on the line, so as a goaltender you have to keep playing your game and hope you get a break," Tokarski said. "And we did."
|Carl Hagelin (5) ASST: Martin St. Louis (7)|
1 - 0 NYR
|Andrei Markov (1) ASST: Max Pacioretty (5), Brendan Gallagher (6)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Daniel Briere (3) ASST: Thomas Vanek (4), Rene Bourque (2)|
2 - 1 MTL
|Chris Kreider (3) ASST: Dan Girardi (5), Derek Stepan (8)|
2 - 2 Tie
|1st OT Period|
|Alex Galchenyuk (1) ASST: Tomas Plekanec (5), Brian Gionta (5)|
3 - 2 MTL
|Daniel Carcillo Charging against Brandon Prust|
|Derek Dorsett Fighting (maj) against Brandon Prust|
|Brandon Prust Fighting (maj) against Derek Dorsett|
|Daniel Carcillo Game misconduct against Brandon Prust|
|Derek Stepan Hooking against David Desharnais|
|Brendan Gallagher Interference against Ryan McDonagh|
|Brendan Gallagher Roughing against Ryan McDonagh|
|1st OT Period|