Canadiens force Game 6 with win over Rangers

The Montreal Canadiens forced Game 6 in the Eastern Conference final against the New York Rangers...

The Montreal Canadiens forced Game 6 in the Eastern Conference final against the New York Rangers with a win Tuesday at the Bell Centre in Montreal. (MARTIN CHEVALIER/QMI Agency)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:05 PM ET

MONTREAL - Plastered on the balcony walls of the Bell Centre, just above the nosebleed seats, are images of the great Habs of yesteryear, an illustrious group that includes greats such as Rocket Richard, Jean Beliveau and Guy Lafleur.

Entering Game 5 of their Eastern Conference final against the New York Rangers at the Bell Centre, perhaps the 2014 Montreal Canadiens took inspiration from the Flying Frenchmen whose photos are sprinkled throughout the building.

Rene Bourque certainly did.

Because on this night, Bourque and the moribund Habs’ offence finally turned in a performance of firewagon hockey that, at least for a couple of days, allowed the Canadiens to live another day.

Indeed, with their backs against the wall, facing elimination at the hands of the Broadway Blueshirts, Bourque’s hat trick led the Canadiens to an emotional 7-4 victory Tuesday, narrowing their deficit in this best-of-seven series to 3-2.

First they chased star Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist out of the net just 28:58 into the game, beating the all-star four times. Then they chased the Rangers back to New York, where Game 6 will be held Thursday at Madison Square Garden.

This, remember was a Canadiens team that had scored just eight goals in the previous four games of this series. In Bourque’s case, he had only found the back of the net once in his past 10 games leading up to Tuesday night’s game.

But those struggles were forgotten in a big hurry, especially when Bell Centre workers were collecting all the chapeaus that had been tossed onto the ice after Bourque completed his hat trick early in the third period.

In one way, no one should be surprised that the Rangers could not finish off the Canadiens from in Game 5. This is a team that has not won a series in less than seven games since the first round of the 2008 playoffs, when they disposed of the rival New Jersey Devils in five.

In extending the series, the Habs can also be buoyed by the fact that the once seemingly invincible Lundqvist is no longer that -- at least in their minds.

As they celebrated the victory, the Habs received inspiration earlier in the day from injured goaltender Carey Price.

Seeing their No. 1 goalie on the ice in pads before the morning skate had the Habs collectively buying into the notion of “Let’s Win This One For Carey.”

For the second consecutive day, Price worked out between the pipes prior to Habs practice. On this particular instance, he was decked out in full equipment for the first time since injuring his right leg/knee in Game 1, when he was crashed into by Rangers forward Chris Kreider.

While Habs coach Michel Therrien once again insisted that Price definitely is not available for any part of this Eastern Conference final, the Canadiens used his rehab as a rallying point entering Game 5.

“Seeing (Price) in pads got the boys going,” forward Max Pacioretty said after the Canadiens’ morning skate.

“Seeing him every day working, talking to him, we know we have to win in order to get him back. We know we have to win this for him in order for him to rejoin us (down the road).”

Working with goaltending coach Stephane Waite and another member of the Habs staff, Price spent a lot of time testing his side-to-side lateral movement. He also faced a few light shots, all the while being aware of the state of his right leg.

When peppered with questions about Price’s availability, Therrien was defiant in his insistence that Price will be unavailable for the remainder of the series, a claim he has been making since Price first got hurt.

“That’s just part of the process in his attempt to come back,” Therrien said of Price’s workout Tuesday. “He is not playing in this series. He is not.”

But for at least one more game, his teammates are.

mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/zeisberger


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