MONTREAL -- It has been 10 years since Brad Richards won the Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The New York Rangers center and linemate Martin St. Louis are enjoying passing along that shared experience to their current teammates.
"This whole playoff it's been fun to do that," Richards said Tuesday in the wake of New York taking a 2-0 series lead against the Montreal Canadiens in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Final. "When I was in Tampa, Marty also, we didn't really have a clue what we were doing. We were first time through it, we were leaning on other people, older people, asking them all the questions, which I think is a lot easier when you're younger.
"Now you know all the things that can happen, and it's a lot harder. But it's fun to try to gather the group and talk about things. This group has come together so much and they ask a lot of questions. They make fun of us a lot too for doing that, but it's fun to try to help out that way."
Richards won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2004 when he scored seven game-winning goals, a Stanley Cup Playoff record.
"This group has had a lot of fun together," Richards said. "The opportunities don't come too often. We've been to the conference final twice in three years. That's very rare. Look at teams around the League that you think are going to have chances to win Cups every year and all that, and it just doesn't happen. It's very tough.
"I haven't been back to a [Stanley Cup] Final since '04. I just try to hammer that stuff home. When you get in these situations, you give yourself three or four weeks of everything you've got, because it might not come back for a long time and you might not have a group that comes together like this in a long time and it might never happen again, so I think that's the message. These are great opportunities, great moments that we try to do. You never want to sit back when it's over and say, 'What was I thinking there? Why didn't I put more into that? It was so much fun.'"
Game 3 is Thursday at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
Tampa Bay, led by captain Dave Andreychuk on its run to the Stanley Cup, counted on veteran forward Tim Taylor, who won the Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 1997, and defenseman Darryl Sydor, who won with the Dallas Stars in 1999, to demonstrate what it took to win a championship.
"We're lucky to have guys that have been there before and that have won and know what it takes," Rangers right wing Rick Nash said. "I think the biggest message is they've said there's lots of ups and downs and you've got to stay level-headed through it all."
The Rangers relied on 40 saves by Henrik Lundqvist to defeat the Canadiens 3-1 Monday. Lundqvist's play in the first period allowed New York to emerge with a 2-1 lead despite being outshot 14-9.
"It's pretty self-explanatory," Richards said. "We weren't at our best. They were going to come with a big push. They had to. And he did what he had to do to give us a chance to win the game. We need that sometimes, and [Monday] night was a prime example."
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault doesn't plan on letting his team rely on Lundqvist's heroics.
"Give Montreal full marks, they came at us real hard," Vigneault said. "But at the end of the day, we need to play better than we did. We can't rely on our goaltending the way we did last night, and we're not going to next game."
Vigneault said forward Derick Brassard remains day-to-day after he was injured early in the series opener Saturday and missed Game 2. Asked if Brassard was kept out of the lineup Monday with two days off, Vigneault dismissed the notion by saying he "couldn't stop a French guy from playing in Montreal."