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Dominic Moore a season-long inspiration to the Rangers

Dominic Moore of the Rangers celebrates his second-period

Dominic Moore of the Rangers celebrates his second-period goal against the Montreal Canadiens with his teammates during Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, May 29, 2014. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Rangers are practical enough to realize that nothing lifts a team as much as a big goal does. Still, they insist that they could not have risen to where they are if not for inspiration that goes beyond the scoreboard, the inspiration that Martin St. Louis carried.

"There's always ups and downs this time of year, springtime in the NHL,'' Dominic Moore said. "Obviously, we've had some obstacles individually and as a team -- Marty's mother passing away was something we rallied around. Marty showed his leadership and courage, which we all rallied around."

Moore had his own huge goal in Game 6 against the Canadiens Thursday night and has had his own story to tell all season.

It says something that even Moore offered a tip of the cap to St. Louis.

Moore was the one wearing the team's coveted Broadway hat for having scored the only goal in the conference finals-clinching 1-0 win over Montreal at Madison Square Garden. He did it with a heart full of gratitude for his teammates, who supported him when the going was rough last fall during his first games back after sitting out a year to grieve the death of his wife, Katie.

When reporters asked him about being the standout, Moore deflected the questions, saying, "When it's a one-goal game like that, every little bit counts and everybody makes a difference."

But he singled out St. Louis, as other Rangers have since their postseason turned after he showed up to play Game 5 of the Penguins series despite having learned the day before that his mother had died of a heart attack.

St. Louis scored perhaps the biggest goal of that series, to start Game 6, and this series, to end Game 4. While still on the ice Thursday night amid the Garden frenzy, St. Louis put the upcoming trip to the Stanley Cup Final into personal perspective.

"It makes everything right, you know? Everything I guess I've gone through this year," he told CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, alluding to a trade from the Lightning as well as the family's loss.

"When you get on the ice, it helps healing. I've said it before: It brought some joy to our sadness. My dad was here for Game 4, but he's home tonight. My oldest son is playing in a hockey tournament this weekend in Montreal, so he had to be there, but it's good for him too, to be able to heal," St. Louis said.

Back in the locker room, he added, "To get a chance to play in the Stanley Cup Finals with these teammates of mine, who have been nothing but great through my tough time in the past few weeks, it makes it even more special. I am proud to be a Ranger and do it alongside these great teammates."

In that, he sounded like Moore. The latter is wise enough, after having been on 10 NHL teams (including the Rangers twice and the Canadiens once), to know that victories don't just happen with karma. They are built on tons of details, such as the work Brian Boyle did in getting him the puck for the goal in Game 6 Thursday night. "You take pride in doing your job and doing it well," he said.

But there is something to be said about showing up. Coach Alain Vigneault saw that in both Moore and St. Louis.

"I think they've found refuge -- is that an English word? -- they've found a way to find a place where they can be happy and that is at the rink with their teammates and on the ice,'' he said. "They've both been very inspirational leaders throughout the whole thing."

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