Midway through the second period it didn’t look but the Montreal Canadiens used a natural hat trick from Rene Bourque to win Game 5 7-4 and force another trip to New York on Thursday.
In fact, Bourque pulled off a performance that we became accustomed to seeing from the person he was traded for – Mike Cammalleri. He took the team on his back to live another day.
Many missing Canadiens changed their fortune around in Game 5. Max Pacioretty scored a goal and could have had more. Brendan Gallagher didn’t score, but made an incredible pass to set up Pacioretty’s goal that gave the Canadiens a 3-1 lead at the time.
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Thomas Vanek and Rene Bourque combined to set up Bourque’s first goal and Vanek almost set up Briere for another goal. His play with and without the puck was much improved.
Tomas Plekanec scored a nifty goal and his line with Alex Galchenyuk and Brian Gionta looked to play up to the level they needed. Gionta is now 8-3 in elimination games with the Canadiens. That’s mighty impressive – especially considering his teams haven’t been very good.
I was at the game, and at first glance I thought Dustin Tokarski was to blame for most of the goals scored on him. On second look watching the TV coverage, he was to blame for maybe two of the goals. He also made several key saves and didn’t collapse after giving up a soft 1-1 goal or when the Rangers came back from the 4-1 deficit.
Getting Henrik Lundqvist out of the game when he wasn’t playing his best could be the turning point for the series. How he responds will be one of the biggest storylines of the next few days. Lundqvist was already pulled in one game this postseason – Game 6 against Philadelphia. His next few games were very good.
Something to look towards as this series rolls on is the Rangers fatigue. I mentioned after Game 4 that the Canadiens looked tired. They looked rejuvenated yesterday.
The Rangers are now entering Game 20 of their playoffs. That is the maximum any team could have played. The Canadiens will be in their 17th game. It may not seem like a huge difference but fatigue is very real this time of year.
Alexei Emelin was out with a body injury, and frankly I will be surprised if he plays again this postseason. He proved in Game 4 that he is a liability at important times. I’d take a healthy Nathan Beaulieu any day. The team didn’t really seem to miss him although Michel Therrien’s allergy to rookies means Emelin probably comes back as soon as he’s cleared.
There were a couple of ugly hits in this game. I would expect Derek Dorsett to not get suspended but I think John Moore could get two or three games for his hit on Dale Weise. It was at least as late as Brandon Prust‘s hit and may have been more targeted to the head. He has a hearing with the league today.