In a game that wasn't short on action, Montreal held off a Rangers rally winning Game 5 7-4, forcing a Game 6 in New York on Thursday.
While the Rangers made it a point of emphasis to take fewer penalties, Chris Kreider was called for tripping just 22 ticks into the contest, leading to the game's first goal. The Canadiens worked the puck around the zone, before a P.K. Subban bomb was tipped past Henrik Lundqvist to by Alex Galchenyuk give the Habs a 1-0 only 1:48 in.
The Rangers would regain their footing, and Derek Stepan (who else?) made himself visible in his first game back after breaking his jaw. Hitting the line in a 2-on-1, Stepan snuck a wrister through Dustin Tokarski to tie the game at one midway through the period.
The soft goal by Tokarski was a sign of things to come, as Tomas Plekanec would return the favor only 1:40 later on a wrist shot from above the circles that managed to beat Lundqvist.
If the first period was calm by most standards, the second period was a thunderstorm mixed with an earthquake. Montreal came out firing on all cylinders, as Max Pacioretty connected only 3:44 in to push it to a 3-1 Habs edge. Kevin Klein got caught trying to make a play in the offensive zone, and Pacioretty beat Lundqvist five-hole with a quickly placed shot.
Montreal would add to its lead a little over three minutes later, as Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi both got caught below the icing line, and Rene Bourque was left all alone in front to make it 4-1 Canadiens.
That would be all for Lundqvist, who was pulled a few minutes later for Talbot. With the setup in the Bell Centre, Talbot does not sit on the bench, and needed to get his equipment and stretch to come in. Had he been on the bench, he probably goes on the ensuing faceoff.
And that's when the game got crazy. Rick Nash found a puck in the corner, and spun and wheeled it in front, deflecting off Josh Gorges and past Tokarski to make it 4-2 midway through the second.
Only 2:06 after the Nash goal, the big winger got in and won a puck battle before getting the puck out in front. Stepan found the loose change, and flung one past Tokarski for his second of the night, and a 4-3 game.
Then things got downright weird. Just under a minute after Stepan made it a one-goal game, Plekanec was sent off for embellishment for throwing his head back with a stick in the vicinity.
With the Rangers a man up, McDonagh executed a perfect toe-drag, drawing Tokarski out of his crease, before sending one to Kreider who deflected it into the empty net for a 4-4 tie.
While the momentum was seemingly in the Rangers end—a four goal deficit erased in a brisk 4:24—it would be short lived.
Borque was able to take a centering pass from Weise, break in on Talbot, and beat him over the glove for a 5-4 Montreal lead.
Suffice to say, the third period had its share of action as well.
Bourque would finish off his hat trick 6:33 in, giving Montreal a more comfortable two-goal lead.
In the column of plays that might effect Game 6, John Moore put his name in the hat. With Montreal shorthanded later in the frame, Moore took a blindside run at Weise, very similar to the hit Brandon Prust laid on Stepan. This time, the infraction wasn't missed by the officials, as Moore was given a five-minute major and the gate, and will certainly be hearing from the Department of Player Safety.
Montreal would wrap up the highest-scoring game of the series with 4:17 remaining, as David Desharnais put the puck into an empty net. A very early empty net goal, and a strange ending to a strange game.
The Rangers simply were not very good throughout, and for the first time in a long time, neither was Lundqvist. The comeback was inspiring, as was Stepan's two-goal effort returning from injury, but New York completely opened up and got away from the game plan when the score got out of hand.
Of note before Game 6, which will be played Thursday night in New York, is the status of Moore, who again, will likely be hearing from Player Safety. Also eligible to return from suspension is Prust, as Montreal tries to stave off elimination again, and force a Game 7.