MONTREAL - Many felt the Rangers were a deeper team than the Canadiens heading into their best-of-seven series, and that was on display in the team's Game 1 victory Wednesday night.
New York managed just two goals - including an empty-net - but it was the game-winner from the fourth line that reinforced that depth that is crucial come playoff time, and will be Friday night when the Blueshirts look to sweep the first two games in Montreal before the series shifts to Madison Square Garden Sunday night.
"One of the things to making a run in the playoffs is secondary scoring," said defenseman Brendan Smith, who coach Alain Vigneault said played arguably his best game as a Ranger in Game 1. "When you get that, you're a tough team to play.
"There's others areas," Smith added. "Obviously you need your goalie to basically be your best player, but other than that you have to be sound defensively and need secondary scoring, and we got that. With Tanner Glass burying that first one and then putting pressure on them, that's a big thing. We're going to try to keep rolling."
Video: Brendan Smith on Game 1 win in Montreal
The fourth line turned in a spirited and physical effort Wednesday night, with Glass, Oscar Lindberg and Jesper Fast all factoring in on the game-winning goal. The fourth line isn't there to provide the offense, but when it does, it gives the trio - and the team - a much needed boost, especially in a hostile building like the Bell Centre.
"In the playoffs you're going to need all four lines contributing offensively," Lindberg told NYRangers.com on Thursday. "It was key to get the first goal, especially in this building when they were coming out so hot. We were able to get a little room after that and I think the second period we came out playing real well and in the third, I thought we defended really good."
New York is expected to deploy the same lineup Friday as it did Wednesday night, meaning Kevin Klein will remain the team's seventh defenseman. That, according to Vigneault, is another example of the team's deep pool to which to choose its lineup.
"Because we have seven experienced defensemen, and … to some extent [Steve] Kampfer coming in and playing as strong as I felt he did with his skating ability, it gives us options," Vigneault said of his defense. "I think in [the] playoffs depth that all positions is real important, and we're fortunate that we have some depth there."
Video: Jimmy Vesey: "It was an awesome experience"
Depth is clearly an asset, but the Rangers know they must generate more offensively. Outside of Glass' goal, the Rangers did have several opportunities to beat Carey Price, who was also benefitted by a Brady Skjei shot hitting the post. But one goal leaves little room for error, even with Lundqvist in goal.
"It's playoff hockey so there's not going to be a lot of chances," said Jimmy Vesey, who made his playoff debut Wednesday night. "Teams defend really well and get in the lanes and there's not much ice out there. I think we've got to play the game beneath the dots in the offensive zone and hold on to pucks and wear them out and find a way to get to Price. He's a great goaltender, but get some guys in front of him and get more than one whack at the puck."