The New York Rangers know a 3-1 lead isn't safe in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Rangers might have never proved that in the second round if Martin St. Louis didn't give them an emotional lift, despite the loss of his mother. That lift may be the turning point of the entire Stanley Cup playoffs, especially after St. Louis put New York a step away from the finals with his Game 4 overtime goal over the Montreal Canadiens on May 25.
The Rangers' 3-2 win gave them a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals -- which the Pittsburgh Penguins would have been in if they held their 3-1 lead over the Rangers a round ago. As such, New York certainly knows that it will have to put Montreal away while it can.
The Canadiens came close to winning two overtime games in New York, after losing two decisive games in Montreal. But despite erasing a 1-0 and 2-1 deficit in Game 4, Montreal never had the lead, When overtime came, the Canadiens couldn't put the Rangers away, unlike in their Game 3 win.
St. Louis all but put the Canadiens away for good instead, as he shot a loose puck past Dustin Tokarski six minutes into overtime. It was his sixth goal of the Stanley Cup playoffs, although he has scored most of them in the last seven games. Ever since he played Game 5 against the Penguins one day after his mother's death, New York has gone from the brink of elimination to the brink of its first conference title in 20 years.
St. Louis and Henrik Lundqvist have been the co-MVP's for the Rangers to this point. Lundqvist only faced 29 shots in Game 4, yet he did assist Derick Brassard's late second period goal. If all goes well, he won't have to carry the Rangers in a Game 7 for the first time in these Stanley Cup playoffs.
Someone must carry the Canadiens in Game 5 on May 27, or they will watch the Rangers celebrate on their home ice. The Rangers just became the first home team to win in this series, which may bode well for the Canadiens to snap their home losing streak. Yet Game 6 is at New York, so Montreal will want luck to shine on the road team again by then -- if Game 6 is even necessary.