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Rangers 3, Canadiens 1

Canadiens lose to Rangers in Game 2

Montreal coach Michel Therrien watched his team fall into a 2-0 hole in the series with New York.

EPA

Montreal coach Michel Therrien watched his team fall into a 2-0 hole in the series with New York.

MONTREAL — Henrik Lundqvist made 40 saves and Martin St. Louis scored in the second period as the New York Rangers earned a 3-1 victory over the Carey Price-less Montreal Canadiens Monday night.

The Rangers lead the best-of-seven Eastern Conference final, 2-0, heading back to New York for Game 3 Thursday.

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St. Louis scored a day after he and his teammates attended the funeral of his mother, who died just before Mother’s Day.

New York’s Rick Nash also scored while Ryan McDonagh added a goal and an assist to give the defenseman six points in the opening two games of the series. Max Pacioretty scored for Montreal, which outshot New York, 41-30.

The Canadiens had Dustin Tokarski playing his first career NHL playoff game in goal in place of Price, the Olympic gold medalist who hurt his right knee in the series opener when the Rangers’ Chris Kreider crashed into the net.

Coach Michel Therrien said he opted for Tokarski over regular backup Peter Budaj because of the youngster’s record of winning championships at the junior and AHL levels.

‘‘He’s a winner,’’ Therrien said. ‘‘I thought he played well. We talked to Peter and he reacted as a pro.’’

The Canadiens rebounded from a 7-2 rout in the opener with one of their better games of the playoffs, but Lundqvist had a nearly flawless game.

Montreal’s worst fears were realized in the first period, which it dominated while falling behind, 2-1.

A long period of sustained pressure produced the first goal as Lundqvist’s clearing attempt went off Pacioretty’s skate and into the net at 6:14.

But 17 seconds later, New York tied it as McDonagh swiped a puck toward the net and saw it go in off Josh Gorges’s leg and the post.

The crowd was booing Kreider when he sent a pass across to the right side and Nash’s one-timer went in off the midsection of Tokarski at 18:58 of the first. It was the second goal in as many games and second of the playoffs for Nash.

Tokarski had no chance as St. Louis wired a shot from the slot on a power play inside the post at 8:03 of the second.

Therrien looked grim earlier Monday in announcing that Price, who backstopped Canada to the gold medal at the Sochi Olympics and led them past the Bruins in the second round will miss the rest of the Eastern Conference finals.

He gave no details of the injury — a suspected right knee problem — but suggested Price would be back if the Canadiens can get past the Rangers.

‘‘Really disappointed. He’s our best player,’’ Therrien said. ‘‘We need to rally around Carey.” We need to give him a chance to play again this season.’’

Price clutched his right knee when Kreider crashed into him skates-first at 3:15 of the second period Saturday.

Price got up and finished the period, but didn’t look comfortable in allowing two goals in the final 1:01. He was replaced in the third by Budaj, who allowed three goals on eight shots.

After Saturday’s game, Therrien said he removed Price not because of injury but because there was no use leaving him in with the team playing poorly.

He was angrier the next day when it became clear the injury was worse than first suspected, saying Kreider could have tried to avoid the collision. And he was simmering Monday, pointing out Kreider’s history of hitting goalies.

Kreider, a Boxford, Mass., native who played at Masconomet and Boston College, left Ottawa’s Craig Anderson with a knee injury when he crashed the crease during the regular season. He also elbowed Marc-Andre Fleury’s head in Game 6 of the conference semifinals.

Therrien called the play on Saturday ‘‘reckless.’’

‘‘That’s the truth,’’ he said. ‘‘And Kreider, that’s not the first time he’s going at goalies. So we end up losing our best player. But our group faced a lot of adversity throughout the course of the season. We have the attitude to respond really well and that’s what I’m expecting.’’

Kreider said his main regret was missing the net with his shot as he went in on a breakaway and lost his footing.

‘‘Obviously, I was trying to score a goal,’’ said Kreider.

‘‘I’m here to play my game and play hard and I think I’m a clean player. I don’t go out with the intent to hurt anyone, ever, so I’m going to continue to try and get to the net and score goals.’’

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