Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh tied a team record for defensemen with four points, while the Canadiens fell two goals shy of matching their worst playoff defeat in team history. Montreal will try to dig out of a 1-0 hole at home in Game 2 on Monday.
New York opened the scoring with two quick goals by their smallest forwards in the first period. Mats Zuccarello made it 2-0 after one period just minutes after Dominic Moore set up a Martin St. Louis goal with a beautiful backhand feed.
Montreal cut the lead to one goal when Rene Bourque slipped one past Henrik Lundqvist midway through the second period. The Habs probably got away with a too many men penalty on the play, but the goal stood nonetheless.
But three-goal deficits have been conquered before in the playoffs, so the Canadiens had a glimmer of hope heading into the third period.
At least, until Ryan McDonagh scored just 1:28 in. So did Derek Stepan minutes later.
Finally, Rick Nash scored his first goal of the 2014 playoffs for the Rangers' seventh goal of the day.
Montreal cut away at the lead with a goal late in the third, but by then it was too late.