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Canadiens survive, send Eastern finals back to New York
In a wild, high-scoring Game 5 Tuesday night, Rene Bourque's hat trick led the Canadiens, with their backs to the wall, to a 7-4 victory at Bell Centre.
The Rangers still lead the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals, 3-2, with a chance to wrap up the series at home, but they will certainly need a tighter defensive effort, more shots on goal and better goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist, who was yanked in the second period.
The third period began with the Habs leading 5-4, but Bourque's third goal at 6:33, over the glove of reliever Cam Talbot, provided a two-goal cushion, which proved too much for the Blueshirts to overcome.
Rookie goalie Dustin Tokarski, who had allowed four goals on just 16 shots in the first 40 minutes, kept the Rangers at bay in the final 20.
A frustrated John Moore effectively killed any chances of a comeback with a late, high hit on Dale Weise, drawing a five-minute match penalty, which carries an automatic suspension for the defenseman.
With Talbot pulled, David Desharnais' empty-netter at 4:17 set the home crowd singing.
Down 4-1 in the second period, Lundqvist was pulled for Talbot, making his playoff debut, and the Rangers scored three straight goals to tie it at 4.
The Canadiens had scored the first two goals of the period, and it looked like a rout. Max Pacioretty made it 3-1 on a beautiful pass from Brendan Gallagher at 3:44. And when Mats Zuccarello bounced a defenseman into Tokarski, the Canadiens went on another power play at 4:46.
The Rangers fought that off, but sensing blood, the Habs kept pushing.
Bourque was left alone in front to make it 4-1 at 6:54, and Talbot grabbed his mask on the bench and started stretching. He came in to relieve Lundqvist with 11:02 left in the second.
The Rangers responded to the goalie change with three goals in 4:24. With a quick shot from a bad angle on the left side, Rick Nash banked a low shot off Tokarski and in at 9:48.
Derek Stepan, wearing a plastic guard on his helmet to protect a broken jaw suffered in Game 3, scored his second of the game at 12:06.
And then on a power play, with Tomas Plekanec in the box for embellishment, Chris Kreider capped the comeback at 14:12 from in front, stunning the boisterous crowd.
But Bourque scored his second of the game from the slot at 15:10 for a 5-4 lead. The Rangers, who were called for eight penalties Sunday, got off to the worst possible start Tuesday night. Kreider tripped P.K. Subban at the 22-second mark. The Rangers killed the first half of the power play, but when Zuccarello failed to clear up the boards, Andrei Markov slid the puck cross ice to Subban, whose blast deflected off Alex Galchenyuk, skating by the crease at 1:48.
The goal energized the crowd and gave the Canadiens some confidence.
At 9:14, the Rangers broke in on an odd-man rush and Martin St. Louis fed Carl Hagelin, who fired immediately as Tokarski lunged toward him.
The puck hit the knob of his stick and flitted away. But the Rangers tied the score just minutes later. Stepan took a 45-foot wrister that seemed to dip under Tokarski's blocker and went off the post and in at 10:44.
But the Habs struck again. Plekanec skated into the slot and fired a low shot past Lundqvist's glove for a 2-1 lead at 12:24, a goal that Lundqvist (14 saves) probably wants back.