New York Rangers right wing Martin St. Louis celebrates after scoring a goal against the Montreal Canadiens during the first period in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals in the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs in Montreal on Saturday, May 17, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)
Updated: June 23, 2014 12:57PM
MONTREAL — Martin St. Louis and the New York Rangers had a reason to smile in the midst of a weekend of sadness.
St. Louis, who attended his mother’s wake Friday and will attend her funeral with his teammates Sunday, scored the first goal of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final to start the Rangers on their way to a 7-2 rout Saturday of the Montreal Canadiens.
‘‘It was an emotional time for everyone, but the guys have been behind me and supported me,’’ said St. Louis, who received a long ovation from the crowd at the Bell Centre after he was named the first star of the game. ‘‘My teammates are behind me and supporting me, and their effort was unbelievable. We feel really close right now, and we’re trying to keep feeding off that.’’
The Rangers drew inspiration from St. Louis after his mother’s unexpected death before Game 5
of their second-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. They haven’t lost since, winning four consecutive games.
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said his team is trying to support St. Louis while staying focused on playing a sound game.
‘‘[St. Louis] has handled it in an incredible way that probably has helped our team come closer
together,’’ Vigneault said. ‘‘[Sunday] is going to be a tough day. We need to be there to support him, and we’ll do that and get ready for [Game 2 on] Monday.”
Mats Zuccarello, Chris Krei-
der, Brad Richards, Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan and Rick Nash also scored for the Rangers, who had scored only four goals in their last nine visits to Montreal. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist, meanwhile, made 20 saves to earn his first victory at the Bell Centre since March 17, 2009.
Rene Bourque and Lars Eller scored for the Canadiens, whose starting goalie, Carey Price, seemed to suffer an injury to his right leg when Kreider slid into him after shooting wide on a breakaway early in the second
period. Price remained in the game but was pulled after giving up two goals late in the second.
Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said Price wasn’t seriously hurt and was replaced by Peter Budaj to start the third because the team was playing so poorly in front of him.
‘‘Good thing it’s a seven-game series and we have a chance to get back in it on Monday,’’ Bourque said. ‘‘We have to just forget about this game.’’