The New York Rangers beat the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 at Madison Square Garden to seal their first Stanley Cup appearance in two decades.

Dominic Moore scored the game's only goal in the second period as the Rangers wrapped up the Eastern Conference finals series 4-2.

The Rangers will play either the Los Angeles Kings or the Chicago Blackhawks for the Stanley Cup when the National Hockey League's championship started on June 4.

New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who was surprisingly pulled during Game Five loss in Montreal, made a spectacular return with 18 saves and his first shutout of the playoffs.

He pulled off one miraculous save from Thomas Vanek in the second period when he dropped his stick but flipped around just in time to stop the puck going into the net, whipping the Big Apple's hockey fans into a frenzy.

Rangers fail to capitalise

But the Rangers failed to capitalise on their early chances - including a golden opportunity to score off a short-handed wraparound - and the Habs slowly began to grow in confidence in a scoreless opening period.

The Canadiens, who won the last of their 24 Stanley Cup championships a year before the Rangers' last success in 1994, killed off two New York penalties then almost snatched the lead when Lundqvist acrobatically stopped Vanek's backhander.

Moore finally broke the deadlock less than two minutes before the end of the middle period when Brian Boyle got in behind the Montreal net and fed the puck to Moore, who slipped it past Tokarski for his third goal of the playoffs.

The last time the Rangers made the Stanley Cup finals was in 1994 when they beat the Vancouver Canucks in seven games and the odds were stacked against them this season.

They needed seven games to win their first round series against the Philadelphia Flyers, then clawed they way off the canvas from 3-1 down to upset the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round.

Source: Reuters