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Stepan's return not enough, as Habs' offense erupts to stave off elimination

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For Tuesday’s game five of the Eastern Conference Finals, many expected a goaltending battle. Needless to say, those people may have left disappointed. What they got instead was a high-flying, truculent affair between the Montreal Canadiens and the New York Rangers; culminating in a 7-4 win for the Habs.

After scoring only nine goals during the regular season, Montreal forward Rene Bourque exploded for a hat trick; leading an offensive onslaught that saw star Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist chased from the game halfway through the second period.

“Everybody talks about how he’s a great goalie,” Bourque said of Lundqvist. “Has he been better than (Canadiens goalie Dustin Tokarski) this series? I don’t think so.”

Interestingly enough, pulling Lundqvist may have provided the spark the Rangers needed to get back into the game. Shortly after Cam Talbot came in relief, the Blueshirts’ offense came alive; scoring three goals in a four and a half minute span to try the contest. Allowing two goals on six shots, Talbot was saddled with the loss in the game; which was his second appearance of the playoffs.

Allowing four goals on 27 shots, Tokarski was also less than stellar; but was able to come up with big saves at key moments to secure the victory.

Returning from a broken jaw, Derek Stepan made his presence felt for the Rangers; scoring two goals.

Since Stepan was crushed by a shoulder to the jaw by Habs forward Brandon Prust in game three, the series has taken a nasty turn. That trend continued in game five. Between the two teams, there was a total of 63 penalty minutes doled out. Rangers defenseman John Moore was also issued a match penalty for a late hit on Dale Weise, while Montreal’s Bourque was given a game misconduct for cross checking. Moore was automatically suspended, pending a hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety.

The teams will return to the ice Thursday in New York for game six, with the Rangers still holding a 3-2 advantage in the series.