We go on after neither New York or LA were able to clinch their respective series over the past two nights.
In fact, it couldn't really have gone less to plan for the Rangers on Tuesday as they gave up a powerplay goal inside the first two minutes and ended up pulling goalie Henrik Lundqvist midway through the second. Montreal showed up with real intent and by sheer force of will as well as a raucous crowd made sure they defined the outcome rather than their opponents.
Forcing a decider on Saturday becomes their focus now and the Rangers more than anyone should be wary of letting it get that far because of how they managed to rally from the same 3-1 series deficit in the last round.
A hat trick for Rene Bourque in Game 5 has crowned his zero to hero story no matter what happens, eight playoff goals is just one short of the winger's total from the regular season for which he was roundly lambasted and it's taken only a quarter of the games.
Bourque took the headlines but it was a strong, determined effort from most of the team as you'd expect when you rack up seven goals. I say most because of the Briere/Vanek/Bournival line's woes as they were given less than nine minutes each by Michel Therrien yet managed to be out for two of New York's goals, even though you expect better from the two veterans in that trio right now it seems best to keep their roles reduced.
Alain Vigneault chose to give the Rangers a day off the ice yesterday . Kudos to center Derek Stepan who was back in the lineup scoring twice whilst wearing a cage to protect a jaw that was only broken and operated on within the last week. They'll likely need those battling qualities tonight although I'd say early composure is even more important as their success in this matchup has come from getting in front, making Montreal chase the game and hurting them by countering with speed.
I'll emphasise the power of momentum as per usual and how it just provides the edge to the club with more on the line. Montreal are way out at 3.60 to win in regulation and although I feel it's worth covering overtime that's good enough value to make it worth backing the upset.
Best Bet: Montreal Canadiens to win including overtime at 2.50