NEW YORK -- New York Rangers right wing Martin St. Louis parked himself in the right circle, exactly where he parks himself before and after every practice to work on his shot. The area might as well be called his office.
There he was Sunday night, in overtime of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final, waiting for the puck, a chance to be the hero with a shot that would shorten the distance between the New York Rangers and the Stanley Cup Final to one win.
He got the puck and delivered, putting the Rangers closer to their first trip to the Cup Final in 20 years.
St. Louis lifted New York to a 3-2 overtime victory against the Montreal Canadiens at Madison Square Garden with the winner 6:02 into the extra session on a shot from the right circle that snuggly fit below the crossbar and above goalie Dustin Tokarski's glove.The Rangers leads the best-of-7 series 3-1 heading into Game 5 on Tuesday at Bell Centre (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS), where they are 2-0 in the series and have outscored Montreal 10-3.
"The goal [St. Louis] scored is exactly what you see him practice every time he's on the ice, like a hundred pucks," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "He's trying to put it right there. He made, obviously, a great shot on that goal."
Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves, including arguably his most important of the night on Montreal forward Alex Galchenyuk with 3:15 remaining in regulation. The puck hit Lundqvist in the right shoulder and clanged off the crossbar, falling in front of the goal line.
The win was the 41st of Lundqvist's career in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, tying him with Mike Richter for the most in franchise history.
"Got a little lucky there," Lundqvist said of Galchenyuk's shot. "It hit my stick and then the crossbar. I wasn't sure if I got enough of the shot."
He did, just as the Rangers did enough on special teams despite giving Montreal eight power-play opportunities. Carl Hagelin scored a shorthanded goal off a breakaway in the first period. Derick Brassard scored on an even-strength breakaway in the second.
"This series isn't over," Montreal captain Brian Gionta said. "By no means are we counting ourselves out. It's a tough loss. It's a bitter loss. But at the end of the day we're still in this series."
The Canadiens blamed their struggling power play for the loss Sunday.
They were 1-for-8, including a failed opportunity early in overtime. They also gave up the shorthanded breakaway goal to Hagelin 7:18 into the first period.
"We had the opportunity on the power play and we didn't take advantage of it," Montreal coach Michel Therrien said. "Yes, we scored a goal. It was a timely goal. But we gave up one, and that was the [difference] in the game. Our power play has to be better."
The Rangers credited their surging penalty kill for the win.
They were guilty of six offensive-zone penalties, including a holding the stick infraction on Benoit Pouliot 30 seconds into overtime, but the Rangers allowed eight shots on goal while shorthanded. They blocked seven shots and had four shorthanded shots on goal.
Subban's goal, which appeared to deflect in off of Brendan Gallagher, snapped New York's streak of 27 straight successful kills.
"It's pretty good to be even on the PK on a night like this," Hagelin said.
There was no complaining about the calls either. There were three for high sticking, two for tripping and one each for interference, cross checking and holding the stick.
"It was us. It was us," Vigneault said. "They were penalties. Can't do that."
Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said the penalty kill in overtime gave the Rangers momentum that led to St. Louis' winner.
Montreal had multiple chances to clear the zone, but twice Rangers center Brad Richards kept the puck in at the left point. It eventually chipped to Hagelin, who said he saw St. Louis open in the right circle out of the corner of his eye, and he was surprised that nobody was near him.
"Right when I got it, I just saw their 'D' in front of me and I saw him chilling there on the right side," Hagelin said.
St. Louis had time to walk in on Tokarski to set up his shot. As he did, Staal said everyone on the Rangers bench stood up.
"We just kind of had a feeling that it was going to go in," Staal said. "The puck slides over to him and he's got all that time, so you're anticipating it. He makes no mistake, goes bar down. That's a beautiful shot."
"He walked in and ripped it top cheese," added Hagelin.
St. Louis has scored twice in three games on Tokarski, but the rookie goalie has had his number on several other occasions, stopping point-blank shots from the right circle.
"I tried to trust what I saw," St. Louis said. "Obviously I've gone to that side quite a bit the last few games and he's made some good saves on me. Sometimes you just have to keep trusting what you see and I was fortunate to get it by him."
Tokarski said he thought he was out far enough and set.
"But he beat me," Tokarski said. "It's not a great feeling right now, but we need to get it out of our system and get back to work [Monday]. We have to win a hockey game."
|SHG - Carl Hagelin (6) ASST: Brian Boyle (3), Ryan McDonagh (7)|
1 - 0 NYR
|Francis Bouillon (2) ASST: David Desharnais (5), Rene Bourque (3)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Derick Brassard (5) ASST: Dan Girardi (6), Henrik Lundqvist (1)|
2 - 1 NYR
|PPG - P.K. Subban (5) ASST: Andrei Markov (6), David Desharnais (6)|
2 - 2 Tie
|1st OT Period|
|Martin St. Louis (6) ASST: Carl Hagelin (4), Brad Richards (6)|
3 - 2 NYR
|Josh Gorges Holding against Benoit Pouliot|
|J.T. Miller Interference against Mike Weaver|
|Benoit Pouliot Hi-sticking against Alexei Emelin|
|Dominic Moore Cross checking against Tomas Plekanec|
|Andrei Markov Tripping against Carl Hagelin|
|Rick Nash Hi-sticking against P.K. Subban|
|Andrei Markov Roughing against Brian Boyle|
|Brian Boyle Roughing against Andrei Markov|
|Brian Boyle Hi-sticking against Tomas Plekanec|
|P.K. Subban Tripping against Rick Nash|
|Dominic Moore Tripping against David Desharnais|
|Brad Richards Tripping against Dale Weise|
|1st OT Period|
|Benoit Pouliot Holding the stick against P.K. Subban|