Hockey's line is pretty thin between a puck bouncing off Henrik Lundqvist's forehead or Lundqvist's crossbar after his spinning blocker save -- those things happened Thursday night -- and the Rangers getting a single puck past Montreal Canadiens rookie Dustin Tokarski.

So as the Canadiens considered their exit from the Stanley Cup playoffs, their thoughts crossed between disappointment and a general satisfaction about a season well played.

"It's not what we wanted, but obviously there's lot of positives coming out of this," defenseman P.K. Subban said. "First and foremost, you've got to give them credit. They did a lot of things well to win the series. I felt we, at times, did enough things to win as well, but today they were opportunists. They scored a big goal and they really committed themselves to shutting it down after that.

"They worked really hard and their goaltender played really well today."

Forward Max Pacioretty's thoughts went back to how the Canadiens "didn't show up for Game 1 . . . and it's tough to come back from a 2-0 deficit. You know, we had so much fun during that Boston series and, just like anything else in life, you have success against a team like that, maybe you feel a little bit too good about yourself.

"That could've been one of the things that went wrong, because we felt we could have matched up pretty good against the Rangers."

Tokarski, forced into action when Carey Price was injured in Game 1, stopped 31 of the Rangers' 32 shots last night. "Any time you can be in the playoffs, it's the best development, and the best way to learn how to win,'' he said. "We'll try to get closer next year. We were trying to go out there and win a period, force overtime. Anything can happen in overtime. Couldn't quite get there."

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A pregame story line was the return of feisty Brandon Prust, once a Rangers fan favorite for his rough-and-tumble style but the target of boos Thursday night because he broke Derek Stepan's jaw in Game 3.

Given what was at stake for the Rangers, though, there was no funny business in terms of retaliation. Just a dandy show by Lundqvist in goal and a hard lesson for the Canadiens.

"This was a lot of experience for a lot of young guys, including myself, who are going to find out that it's rare to be in this situation," Subban said. "Four years in the league, I don't know how long I'll be able to play, but you don't get very many opportunities to get back here, so what do you learn? How hard it is to get here."