Canadiens rout Rangers to stave off elimination

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

After a great start, the Canadiens nearly blew it, but Rene Bourque came to the rescue.

Photo credit: ExtraSkater.com

Facing the threat of elimination on home ice for the second time this season, the Montreal Canadiens played their first great game of the series against the New York Rangers.

After building a 4-1 lead on the back of pure dominance, as has been the case all series, luck stuck with the New York Rangers, leading to a fluky bounce off of Josh Gorges and in to make it 4-2, a goalmouth scramble where the puck continually bounced right onto Rangers sticks for a Derek Stepan tally making it 4-3, and finally a powerplay marker by Chris Kreider making it 4-4. The powerplay coming on an embellishment call on Tomas Plekanec for a head snap.

Plekanec clearly embellished looking for a call, however the call was questionable at best, considering head snaps are never, ever called in this league. If there was a standard that these things were called, I don't think anyone would have a problem with it, but the officiating was, in a word, fishy last night.

But for the first time in this series, the Canadiens didn't lose their heads. Most teams after blowing a three-goal lead can't get back into the game. It's a devastating thing to have everything go against you when you feel you've earned a big lead, but the Canadiens rallied.

After chasing Henrik Lundqvist, it was Cam Talbot that the Habs had to respond against, and it took Rene Bourque all of 58 seconds after Kreider tied the game to convert on a Lars Eller carry-in that led to a drop pass to Dale Weise, to Bourque, and a quick wrister from the slot that went top corner.

Taking the lead back before the period ended was imperative according to Michel Therrien, as the team realized in the second intermission that after all that, they tied the second period. With that in mind, they could get back to business at the opening of the third period, and that's exactly what they did.

Montreal came out flying to begin the third, putting up 10 unblocked shots to New York's one before Rene Bourque took yet another pass from Dale Weise to bring the score to 6-4.

From there on out, the Canadiens played it safe, hunkering down in their own zone until Alain Vigneault pulled Talbot for an extra skater, at which time Max Pacioretty made a fantastic defensive play off of a faceoff and lobbed the puck forward to David Desharnais, who potted the empty netter.

Adjustments galore

Although he didn't choose to make the adjustment so much as he was forced to, Michel Therrien taking Alexei Emelin out of the lineup last night worked perfectly. With Nathan Beaulieu back in, the Canadiens' transition game returned, and lead to their best game of the series.

Therrien commented after the game that Beaulieu seems to love being put in these do-or-die situations, thriving on the pressure and playing near perfect games in limited minutes. He and Francis Bouillon were a credible third pairing as Mike Weaver moved up with Andrei Markov on the second pairing, leading to the best playoff game of Markov's career, a three-assist effort that has brought him up to 10 points in 16 playoff games, the best playoff run of his career by far.

At 35 years old, The General is far from done.

Dirty rotten scoundrels

Throughout this entire series, there have been nonstop complaints about the Montreal Canadiens playing the game in the gutter. Some of which is justified, some of which is moral grandstanding by fans and/or media with no leg to stand on. What's been ignored largely in this series, is that the Rangers have been doing their fair share, and more.

Coming into the series, Carey Price had put up a .987 save percentage against the Rangers over the last two years. The Rangers continually crashed the net in game one, and whether or not Kreider eventually injuring Carey Price was an accident, it was undeniably a strategy to attempt to do so. Since then, the Rangers have run Dustin Tokarski 3-4 times per game, with just a single goaltender interference call going against them.

Add to that, Derek Dorsett headbutting Mike Weaver, Benoit Pouliot spearing Tokarski behind the play, Benoit Pouliot boarding Alexei Emelin, John Moore running Weise into the stanchion without the puck, and John Moore laying a blindside headshot on Weise, and it's about time the Rangers get some bad press.

The Canadiens took a long time to develop hate for the New York Rangers, but it's there now.

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