Game 5 between the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers had everything you could want in an Eastern Conference Final game.
Well, everything except for quality hockey played at a high level.
It mattered not, as it was quite the entertaining, eventful and downright fun contest. The Canadiens survived the charming tire fire at Bell Centre and emerged with a 7-4 victory, forcing a Game 6 at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night.
Therrien: "Games like that make make your hair go gray." #Habson690— Conor McKenna (@mckennaconor) May 28, 2014
Imagine a game so odd, so peculiar that Rene Bourque scoring three times barely leads to a raised eyebrow.
Rangers center Derek Stepan, back from a one-game absence due to a broken jaw and wearing a helmet that can be seen from space, scored a pair of goals.
Canadiens goaltender Dustin Tokarski made one of the wildest, most spectacular saves in these playoffs, lunging to his right to deny Carl Hagelin with the knob of his stick midway through the first period. Yet 90 seconds later, Stepan beat Tokarski with an unscreened 45-foot wrist shot to the stick side to tie the score at 1-1.
Stubbs (@Dave_Stubbs) May 28, 2014
It was a fishy goal that seemed to open the door for Tokarski getting the hook at some point, yet he had no intention of leaving the net early.
Instead, it was the postseason's leader in goals-against average and save percentage who was about to embark on his worst performance of the playoffs.
Henrik Lundqvist let a somewhat soft shot from Tomas Plekanec get past him on the glove side to make it 2-1 less than two minutes after Stepan tied it. Less than four minutes into the second period, Max Pacioretty beat Lundqvist with a stoppable shot through the legs to push the lead to 3-1. Bourque scored three minutes later to make it 4-1, sneaking one past Lundqvist to the short side.
About three minutes later, Lundqvist was pulled in favor of Cam Talbot. After the game, Bourque said something even weirder than anything that happened in this game:
Bourque on Lundqvist: "Everybody talks about how he’s a great goalie. Has he been than (Tokarski) this series? I don't think so."— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) May 28, 2014
There it was. Game over. The Canadiens, with their backs to the wall, are running the Rangers out of their building. Thanks for coming. Drive home safe.
Three goals in 4:24 later by the Rangers, and suddenly it was a 4-4 game with 25:48 left to play.
As the hockey world predicted before the start of this series, it would come down to Talbot vs. Tokarski in an elimination game in the hockey mecca that is Montreal. Two goalies who faced off in the 2012 AHL playoffs would decide whether the Rangers would go to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 20 years or the Canadiens would survive yet another game without Carey Price.
Less than a minute later, Bourque scored his second goal of the game to make it 5-4.
As expected. Textbook hockey. Predictable hockey. Playoff hockey.
Dan Girardi said tonight's game was a return to how Rangers used to play at Bell Centre. "Gong show" he called it.— Andrew Gross (@AGrossRecord) May 28, 2014
The third period was a mix of weird and dangerous, like a man dressed as Rustin Cohle juggling chainsaws in a hurricane. Bourque completed the hat trick (seriously, this was so far from the most unusual thing to happen in Game 5) and David Desharnais scored into an empty net with 4:17 remaining to complete the 11-goal contest, the highest-scoring game of these playoffs.
There was also the vicious hit, which should result in the NHL's Department of Player Safety dropping the hammer on the Rangers.
With the Canadiens up 6-4 midway through the period, and with the game still in doubt, Rangers defenseman John Moore delivered a late hit in the same vein as the one Brandon Prust laid on Stepan in Game 4 that earned Prust a mild two-game ban. Moore was given a five-minute major and match penalty for elbowing Dale Weise, although replays showed it was more of a shoulder to the head of the unsuspecting, defenseless player.
That's probably of great comfort to Weise, knowing his head was unnecessarily scrambled by a shoulder instead of the elbow.
GIF: Bourque/Dorsett at end of game, someone rips Dorsett's helmet off presumably so he won't head butt again http://t.co/piBUsB2gMQ— Miss (@myregularface) May 28, 2014
Bourque may hear from the league as well, as he was hit with a five-minute major after the final horn for cross-checking Derek Dorsett around the head area.
Then again, Dorsett may receive a call from the NHL for his head-butt of Mike Weaver.
In the middle of all this, Montreal's Plekanec received a two-minute penalty for embellishment. Twitter got the most out of it, as the hashtag #Plekanecing became a trending topic in some areas. If you can get away with embellishment, it's totally worth it. But Plekanec's acting was so bad that he could be the Mother of Dragons on the fifth season of Game of Thrones.
Each team should take the video of this game, douse it in gasoline and drop a lit match on it.
There are literally no positives or negatives either team can take from this game, as it was so out of character for everyone. The Canadiens scored two of their final three goals against a backup who probably shouldn't have been in net to start the third period after the Rangers cut the lead to 5-4.
This is a win the Canadiens deserved after they played well enough to win Game 4 but didn't get the bounces.
The Canadiens got the bounces, breaks and great fortune in Game 5.
They earned most of them, but man, what a weird game.
Dave Lozo covers the NHL for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveLozo.
All statistics via NHL.com.
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