By Sean Hartnett
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Martin St. Louis’ pride is the lifeblood that fuels the Blueshirts.

The New York Rangers winger was an ever-present force throughout Sunday’s 5-0 victory over the Atlantic Division-leading Montreal Canadiens, harassing the Habs with his legs and executing an array of jaw-dropping passes.

The 39-year-old had a two-point night, finishing a plus-two. Thirty-five seconds into the second period, St. Louis assisted Derek Stepan’s goal with a backhanded cross-ice pass. Later that period, St. Louis hunted down Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin, stole the puck off Emelin’s stick and roofed a wrist shot past Montreal goaltender Dustin Tokarski.

“He made some pretty unbelievable plays,” alternate captain Marc Staal said. “I’ve seen him make some great plays before. He was awesome tonight.”

If legs feed the wolf, than St. Louis will continue to thrive in the young man’s game that is the National Hockey League. He has remained one of the game’s premier players because of a willingness to outwork opponents and an unwavering attention to detail.

The 5-foot-8 winger set the tone on Sunday night. St. Louis and fellow veterans inside the Rangers’ dressing room have spoken of the importance of repeating the positive habits shown Wednesday’s dominant victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. As a whole, the Rangers did an excellent job of pinning the Canadiens deep in their zone for the majority of 60 minutes.

“You always feel you are as good as your last game,” St. Louis said. “For us tonight, we have to go back and try to earn it again and back it up. I thought we did that from the get-go.”

The Canadiens entered MSG with an 8-2-0 record in their previous 10 games. At 16-6-1, Montreal has collected a league-best 33 points at the quarter way point of the season.

“Tonight, you get a chance to play a team that’s been going very good,” St. Louis said. “You want to see how you stack up. You know it’s a fast team. We had to be sharp. I thought we were.”

St. Louis has scored eight goals and tallied nine assists for 17 points through 20 games. He has a strong chance of being a point-per-game player this season.

“He’s a well-rounded professional,” alternate captain Dan Girardi said. “He knows what it takes to win. The way he’s playing right now, we’re going to go in the right direction. He’s been a big leader for us this year, getting a ton of points for us. Marty’s a leader on and off the ice. He’s leading with his play right now.”

He has caught fire of late. St. Louis has collected 11 points in 10 games and extended his point streak to four games.

“I feel good,” St. Louis said. “I enjoy the game. I try to help my team win every night.”

Head coach Alain Vigneault is pleased with the level of consistency that St. Louis has shown.

“Marty has been playing really well,” Vigneault said.

ST. LOUIS APPROACHING 1,000-POINT MILESTONE

St. Louis has recorded 998 points through 1,080 career games. He will have an opportunity to reach 1,000 career points on Wednesday when the Rangers visit the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena.

Prior to the Ryan Callahan captain swap, St. Louis called Tampa home for 13 seasons. The veteran winger isn’t getting caught up over the possibility of reaching the milestone in front of the Lightning fans.

“I’ll be proud when that’s there,” St. Louis said. “You try to not think about it, just go play the game. If you play the right way, you usually get rewarded.”

Vigneault believes that St. Louis will keep it together on Wednesday.

“I know the game is obviously going to be real special,” Vigneault said. “But one shift at a time, he needs to focus on playing the right way. He knows the right way to play and I’m sure he’ll keep his emotions in check and do the right things out there.”

Follow Sean on Twitter – @HartnettHockey.

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