(Photo: Allen McInnis/The Gazette)
It wasn’t Rene Bourque’s first hat-trick, but by his own admission it was the biggest of his career.
Bourque helped the Canadiens stave off elimination Tuesday with three goals as the Habs beat the New York Rangers 7-4 at the Bell Centre. With the win, the Canadiens force Game 6 in the Eastern Conference final series. The Rangers now lead the best-of-seven series 3-2.
“Everybody was ready for this game before we went out there,” Bourque said.
“We knew the situation. We got a big power play goal early and a few others throughout the night. So that was the difference for us tonight. I think our power play finally clicked a little bit and it was probably the difference in the game.”
Bourque played a great game, Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said.
“He was a force out there,” Therrien said.
“On the forecheck he took the man. He was moving his feet. He was going hard to the net. He’s a guy who can score. Definitely that was a great performance by him.”
Nathan Beaulieu was in for defenceman Alexei Emelin who was out of the lineup with an undisclosed injury.
“First of all he got injured last game and it’s a body injury,” said a tight-lipped Therrien when asked if it was an ‘upper’ or ‘lower’ body injury.
The Canadiens blew a 4-1 lead in the second period when the Rangers scored three goals in under five minutes. But then Bourque scored his second goal of the night to put the Canadiens ahead 5-4. He followed that up with another goal in the third period.
The Rangers pulled goaltender Henrik Lundqvist at 8:58 of the second period.
“It was just a see-saw battle back and forth,” Bourque said of the game that was a nail-biter for fans.
Rangers defenceman John Moore received a match penalty for a blind-side hit on Dale Weise in the third period. Weise looked shaken by the hit and went to the dressing room, but returned to the game.
“He went to the quiet room and saw our doctor and they felt that he was good to go,” Therrien said.
As for the hit by Moore, Therrien said: “First of all I thought it was the right call on the ice. We all saw it…It’s up to the league to decide what they’re going to do.”
You can watch what Bourque had to say after the game here:
And you can watch what Canadiens rookie goaltender Dustin Tokarski had to stay here:
(Video: Brenda Branswell)