With their backs against the wall Montreal came out firing on all cylinders and put forth one of their best efforts of the year.
The big story, of course, was the addition of rookie Nathan Beaulieu to the blue line. I don't want to beat the dead horse too much, but replacing Douglas Murray with Nathan Beaulieu is the equivalent of replacing your 1978 AMC Pacer with a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport. Despite not playing an NHL game since the Olympic break, Beaulieu was flying out there, and let's not forget that he demonstrated that he's also capable of blocking shots, which should mean that the inert Swedish mass should be relegated to the press box forever more.
The worst pairing by far was surprisingly Josh Gorges and P.K. Subban. The duo produced brutal analytics last night, although a good amount of the shooting events occurred as a Subban penalty expired and the team was hemmed in their own zone.
I saw a few dolts play the "See? No Murray and we got hemmed in our own zone!" card last night on Twitter, but let's be clear on the difference. It was following a penalty kill, which is not uncommon in the NHL, and it happened once in the game, not every single shift (which is the norm when Murray plays). I won't even bother dragging up the analytics, because most people are able to simply use their eyes in this particular situation, since it's incredibly evident what the issue was, and how easily it was corrected last night. Better late than never, I suppose.
Both Thomas Vanek and Max Pacioretty scored last night, putting an end to much contrived speculation regarding their future in Montreal. Vanek will probably sign in Minnesota, but it's worth noting that despite most Habs fans being down on his production, he has managed to put up five goals and three assists in 11 games.
(gifs courtesy of @PeteBlackburn)
Pacioretty on the other hand tore the gigantic troglodyte shaped monkey off his back, scoring on a play where he had no choice but to out hustle Chara. I guess he's salvaged his future in Montreal. (I still can't believe someone got paid to write something so silly.)
Lars Eller continues to shine, and currently sits as Montreal's best producing forward in the 2014 playoffs. Michael Bournival also put forth another great effort, engaging the Bruins and creating turnovers due to his tireless forecheck.
David Desharnais may not have scored, but he did manage to save a goal:
Montreal might have poked the bear in Game 5 according to the reanimated corpse known as Don Cherry, but it was Montreal who set the physical tone all night.
Emelin was a wrecking ball, taking out the likes of Chara, Krejci, Lucic and more. Dale Weise and Brandon Prust hit everything that moved, as did Michael Bournival.
Andrei Markov (!) delivered two great hip checks, including one on Milan the nutcracker. Although it should be said that Markov must have contracted Lucic's love for nut shots during the hit, as he delivered his own on Chara towards the end of the game. It was sleazy and no one should even attempt to defend it.
Just like no one should attempt to defend the double-teaming engaged by Lucic and Iginla at the end of the game. It's official, Iginla has become a dirtbag, which is a shame because I wanted to remember him fondly, not as a frustrated neanderthal. I'm really surprised the Bruins went full goon mode while they had a 5-on-4, that's just not like them.
The great news is that Montreal has pushed Boston to the point of frustration, which happened a little later than I expected in this series, but like the sun rising, it was bound to happen.
Boston is one of the best teams in recent league history, except when they're hell bent on winning the physical battle instead of what matters, which is the actual hockey game itself.
With Carey Price in God-mode Montreal has a great shot at winning this series, as long as the coach decides to keep the mobile Beaulieu in the lineup.
Montreal needs to continue capitalizing on their superior speed, as well as exploiting Boston's fourth line and third defensive pairing. The Bruins will have last change, meaning that the Habs won't have the advantage when it comes to line matching, however with Price in nets the Habs have a very good chance to crush the hopes of thousands of Bostonians on Wednesday. It should be a great Game 7.
P.K. Subban put it perfectly: "I can't wait for the crowd, the noise, the energy in the building. I can't wait to take it all away from them."