Dominic Moore worked his you-know-what off in Game 1. Nothing new there. Moore has always been an important part of playoff hockey, playing in his fourth Eastern Conference finals in the last six seasons for a third different team.
But Saturday, Moore got a nice reward when Kevin Hayes' centering feed banked off Moore's shin guard and past Ben Bishop with 2:25 to play. It was his first goal this postseason and, as always, an important one for Moore and his team. This one gave the Rangers a 2-1 victory.
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"This time of year, the way he plays, he becomes even more important," Martin St. Louis said of Moore, who paired with Carl Hagelin on a relatively new third line Saturday. "I played with him in Tampa [in 2011] in the playoffs. He was a key contributor then, last year he was a key contributor and again this year."
Moore had a bit of a roller- coaster experience in the minutes leading up to his winner. He chopped down Anton Stralman just inside the Rangers' blue line with 4:55 to go in a 1-1 game, taking one of the Rangers' better faceoff men and penalty-killers off the ice in a crucial spot.
The Rangers got through that kill, then had a three-on-one with Moore leading the charge just out of the box. But Derick Brassard wasn't looking for Moore's drop pass and the puck went the other way. The Rangers worked it back deep, with Moore staying on the ice in Rick Nash's spot, and Moore went to the net to find his good fortune.
"When Hayesie got it, I knew it was eventually going to get to the net, and a good thing happened," Moore said. "We had lots of looks, a couple just before that. I drove it in front and the puck just rolled off my tape. We just tried to stay with it and work for a good bounce and finally it came."
Moore's most recent playoff goal also had been pretty clutch; it gave the Rangers a 1-0 win over the Canadiens in the series-ending sixth game of last year's Eastern Conference finals. Of his 11 career postseason goals, four are game-winners and four have come in each of those conference finals.
"It's a fun time of year for us," Moore said. "Everyone in this room relishes playing in these games . . . I think [scoring big playoff goals] is just a matter of wanting to win."