A wild one at the Bell
Even at inflated playoff prices, the fans got their money's worth as the Canadiens won 7-4 to force a sixth game.
It wasn't easy.
A 4-1 lead with Henrik Lundqvist on the bench should have been safe.
The Rangers scored three unanswered goals – on six second-period shots – to tie it.
Rene Bourque restored the Canadiens' lead with his second of the game and added a third as insurance.
Other scorers were Alex Galchenyuk, on an early power play; Tomas Plekanec, Max Pacioretty and, into an empty net 2ith more than four minutes left, David Desharnais.
Dustin Tokarski made 23 saves, including some big ones in the third period.
Rene Bourque's third of the game and David Desharnais's empty-netter put this one out of reach.
Early goals by Max Pacioretty and Rene Bourque chased Henrik Lundqvist.
4-1 and back to NYC for Game 6, right?
The Rangers got three quick goals by Rick Nash, Derek Stepan (his second of the game) and Chris Kreider, on a power play, to throw a pall of gloom over the Bell Centre.
Rene Bourque's second goal of the game and beat Cam Talbot restored the lead.
But this is a nervous building.
The Rangers scored on three of their six shots in the period.
At last, a lead
The Canadiens started fast and struck early as Alex Galchenyuk tipped in a P.K. Subban rocket on a power play less than two minutes in.
The Rangers tied it on a 45-foot Derek Stepan wrister that dropped six inches on Dustin Tokarski's blocker side. This after the Toker made a spectacular save on Carl Hagelin.
Less than two minutes later, Tomas Plekanec beat Henrik Lundqvist glove side from distance.
Canadiens had a 12-10 shot dvantage.
They'll start the second period shorthanded.
(Insert desperation cliché)
Win or go home.
Do or die.
Tuesday dawned overcast and drizzly in Montreal, where your Canadiens face an ominous situation that matches the weather.
The team has faced elimination twice before in the 2014 playoffs. They won Games 6 and 7 to eliminate the mighty Bruins.
Can they win Game 5 to stay alive against the Rangers?
This team has displayed character and resilience all through the regular season and playoffs, up to and including two overtime thrillers at Madison Square Garden.
It's unlikely Bell Centre fans will have to endure the kind of Game 5 stomping that ended the Canadiens' playoff series against Ottawa last year.
And regardless of the final score, we should celebrate a 2013-'14 that exceeded the expectations of all but the most delusional Habs supporters.
This team has taken us on a helluva ride.
And it isn't over.
Puck drops at 8 p.m.
Check back later for live game blogging.
• What was Alexei Emelin doing on Game 4's winning goal? Not much of anything.
• Pre-game viewing: Michael Farber's excellent TSN feature on Ginette Reno
• It worked for the Kings. The brilliant Josie Gold suggests Ginette needs a Slash approach to change the Canadiens home-ice luck in this series.