Canadiens interim head coach Martin St. Louis, who played with the Rangers during his final two NHL seasons, paused for a moment when he was asked to relate his favorite memory from playing in New York.
“Yeah, well, unfortunately,” he said with a smile before his team’s 4-3 win over the Rangers Wednesday night at the Garden. “It’s scoring the game-winning goal against Montreal [in Game 4 of the 2014 Eastern Conference finals].”
St. Louis and a draft pick came to the Rangers from the Lightning in exchange for Ryan Callahan and three draft picks in March 2014 in a trade of team leaders.
“It was a big trade, you know, two captains getting traded,” St. Louis said. “And I think a first round [pick] or maybe two first round [picks] went the other way. It seemed like a hefty price. I was just trying to validate the trade a little bit. Having an opportunity to score a big goal in front of the fans, it was a great feeling for me. Getting us one step closer to a Stanley Cup Final.
“Scoring an overtime goal in the playoffs, there’s not many feelings that can match that. I was fortunate to do that here.”
On Wednesday, St. Louis strolled into Madison Square Garden for the first time since taking the job in Montreal on Feb. 9. It’s his first NHL head-coaching gig since he hung up the skates following the 2014-15 season, when the Rangers lost to the Lightning in seven games in the conference final.
But the 46-year-old wouldn’t say he felt emotional returning to the building he once called home.
“Coming back here, I think it reminds me of how blessed and fortunate that I got to experience this franchise,” St. Louis said. “Being somewhere for so long and going to play for an Original Six. Also, reminding myself how lucky I am to be in this league again.
“Obviously, not as a player, but behind the bench. Having the opportunity to do that at MSG tonight it’s a great opportunity. I know it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
The Rangers recalled Zac Jones from AHL Hartford. Gallant said there would be more Wolf Pack call-ups.