Needless to say, the 2017 NHL playoffs features a plethora of goal scorers, the Eastern Conference portion of the bracket alone featuring half of the league’s top dozen goal leaders.
So, of course, it was Tanner Glass, he of 24 goals over 10 NHL seasons, that opened the NHL’s postseason scoring.
Glass’s first period goal turned out to be the game winner the New York Rangers sought, as Henrik Lundqvist took care of everything else, allowing the Blueshirts to open their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series with a 2-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre on Wednesday night.
Controversially chosen to play over rookie Pavel Buchnevich, Glass, who has scored six regular season goals over 134 games with the Rangers, was thought to have be inserted into the lineup to counter the grit of Montreal. The Atlantic division champion Canadiens did turn up the shenanigans in the game, often crowding Lundqvist and engaging in extracurricular activity after the whistle. Brendan Gallagher in particular duked it out several times with Mats Zuccarello, and took a tripping penalty in the early stages. The hard feelings carried all the way to the end of the game when Andrei Markov speared Rick Nash in the closing minute. Markov was given a misconduct, while the aforementioned Zuccarello and Gallagher were sent off for roughing in the ensuing melee.
It was Glass, however, that put the Rangers ahead, getting one past Carey Price to put the Rangers up 1-0. It was the second goal of his NHL career, and first since May 2013’s Eastern quarterfinals, when he scored as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Glass’s goal was perhaps the other of two bright spots for the Rangers’ first period. The other was Lundqvist, who held off the early Montreal rush. The Canadiens outshot the Rangers 16-5 in the first period and were aided by pair of late Rangers penalties taken by Ryan McDonagh and Brendan Smith. They killed each penalty off, as well as a JT Miller delay of game call in middle frame. The Rangers would go on to outshoot Montreal 26-15 for the remainder of the game.
Price, however, held strong, dueling Lundqvist in a battle of elite goaltenders each still
seeking their first Stanley Cup hoist. Price held off numerous Ranger rushes, but Lundqvist kept his net secure, stopping all 31 Montreal shots. Forced to pull Price in the final minutes, the Rangers finally broke through again with Price on the bench, as Michael Grabner provided insurance with his first goal since March 13 and first postseason goal since the 2013 quarterfinals, ironically in the same series as Glass, as Grabner competed for the New York Islanders then.
Over their past six quarterfinal series, the Rangers have now won Game 1 four times over that span. They went on to win the series each time.
Game 2 will go down on Friday night, also at Bell Centre (7:00, MSG/USA).