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SportsColumnistsArthur Staple

Martin St. Louis, Dom Moore give inspiration to Rangers

Rangers right wing Martin St. Louis celebrates after

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 Stanley Cup playoffs in Montreal on Saturday, May 17, 2014. Photo Credit: AP / Ryan Remiorz

MONTREAL - We would rather it not be like this.

We would love to have the Rangers in the Eastern Conference finals, up by a game after a dominating 7-2 win that was paced by Dominic Moore and Martin St. Louis, and also have Katie Moore and France St. Louis to cheer their husband and son on to a possible Stanley Cup final berth.

"It doesn't feel great to keep talking about it," Brad Richards said the other day of the death of St. Louis' mother just 10 days ago, "because it's a good friend who lost a parent."

It is St. Louis who lost his mother, who helped host a wake for her on the eve of Game 1 on Friday and who will be there to help lay her to rest Sunday between Games 1 and 2 barely 20 minutes from here in Laval.

And it is also Moore, who stepped away from the game in the spring of 2012, in the midst of a hard-fought playoff series like the ones these Rangers have had this spring, to be with his wife as she fought against cancer.

Katie Moore lost her fight on Jan. 7, 2013, and her husband made the decision to return to the game he loved last summer, surely no less an agonizing decision than the one St. Louis made to play in the Rangers' Game 5 win in Pittsburgh just a day after his mother died.

These are decisions we wish on no one. We compare our own lives and wonder what we would do; even their teammates wonder.

"I'm not sure I could have done that," Marc Staal marveled about St. Louis after an emotional 5-1 Game 5 win over the Penguins that turned the series around and eventually brought the Rangers here for the conference final.

Here, of course, is so close to where St. Louis will bury his mother. Here is where Moore played a big role for the Canadiens in 2009-10, helping Montreal to its most recent Eastern Conference finals. That was also weeks before Dominic and Katie were married.

So there are emotions swirling all around this Rangers team, the sort that we wish didn't have to come from such a sad place.

"He's another player on our team that we all know his story," Alain Vigneault said of Moore, who is a finalist for the Masterton Trophy, an award that honors perseverance and dedication to the game. "He's handled his personal situation and his professional situation in a great way."

When Derick Brassard left Game 1 Saturday barely three minutes in with an injury, Vigneault turned to Moore to move up and play between Benoit Pouliot and Mats Zuccarello. It was a scoreless game and the Rangers, down to 11 forwards, could have gotten scrambly.

Instead, Moore whipped a pass to St. Louis to get the Rangers on the board. Then he delivered another pass that earned a second assist on Zuccarello's goal. Two goals, 1:52 apart, and Moore and St. Louis had channeled those emotions into yet another stirring, strong Rangers performance.

It's only one game in this series, but it's four straight games now in which the Rangers have rallied around St. Louis in his moment of need. Just as he has shown the team he joined at the trade deadline that he is dedicated to the Rangers, that throwing himself into this team and this postseason is what his mother would have wanted from him.

The Rangers will go as a team to France St. Louis' funeral Sunday in Laval. They will go and surely think of loved ones lost, as we all do at funerals, and that surely will be an emotional time for Dominic Moore as well.

Something magical is happening with these Rangers, now three wins from their first Finals berth in 20 years, and many of them point to St. Louis' personal tragedy and how he handled it as the moment they came together last week.

St. Louis and Moore have been big contributors, as they were to get Saturday's Game 1 started. That's great news for the Rangers, who might not have had either of those men had they made different, perfectly justified decisions on how to handle their grief.

They made their decisions and the Rangers and their fans are that much more excited for them.

And still, we would rather it not be like this.

New York Sports