Rene Bourque has been a going concern for the Montreal Canadiens throughout the playoffs. He had chipped in with five timely goals before Game 5 against the Rangers, but that was just a precursor to his dominant performance.
Bourque scored three goals against the Rangers, and the New York defense simply could not contain him.
Bourque scored his first goal at the 6:54 mark of the second period, giving the Habs a 4-1 lead and causing Rangers coach Alain Vigneault to pull Henrik Lundqvist and replace him with backup Cam Talbot.
Bourque got back on the scoreboard later in the second period after the Rangers had rallied to tie the score at 4-4. He took a sweet pass from Dale Weise in the slot and wristed the puck by Talbot to give the Habs a 5-4 lead at the 15:10 mark.
The Rangers were pressing for the tying goal in the minutes that followed, but Bourque was not about to let his team's advantage disappear. He scored his hat trick goal early in the third period as he went in alone on Talbot after taking another pass from Weise. Bourque chipped the puck over Talbot's shoulder to send the Bell Center crowd into a frenzy.
That goal sapped much of the energy that was left on the New York bench and all but guaranteed the two teams would head back to New York for Game 6.
Bourque's playoff explosion has been completely unexpected. He scored a career-low nine goals in the regular season and he was scratched in six of the Habs' final 16 regular-season games.
"It was definitely a good game for me to step up and help the team," Bourque told Arpon Basu of NHL.com.
Bourque is tied with Jeff Carter of the Los Angeles Kings and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks for second in playoff goal scoring with eight. Marian Gaborik of the Kings leads the league with 10 postseason goals.