A lower scoring game was expected for Game 6 on Thursday night after the
teams combined for eleven goals in Game 5. In this one, the Habs and
Rangers combined for all of a single goal. Unfortunately for Montreal,
that lone tally was scored by New York and the Canadiens’ season comes to an end
with the Rangers winning the series 4-2.
Each team made one change for the game. Former Hab Raphael Diaz suited
up for his first game of the series for New York, replacing John Moore who
served the first of his two game suspension. Dale Weise didn’t play for
Montreal due to a ‘body injury,’ also known as concussion-like symptoms that
just aren’t being called that. Brandon Prust, who missed the prior two
contests due to a suspension, played in his place. Alexei Emelin was
supposed to be a game-time decision but he didn’t even take the warmup, meaning
that Nathan Beaulieu remained in the lineup.
In Game 5, it was the Habs who came out flying. In Game 6, the exact
opposite happened. New York was aggressive right off the get-go and it
took over seven minutes for Montreal to even record a shot…and it wasn’t much
of one. The Rangers were the better team for much of the period – it also
didn’t help that Dustin Tokarski was fighting the puck at almost every
opportunity – but Montreal played a bit better towards the end. Neither
team scored, sending the teams back to the room tied.
The Canadiens had a carryover powerplay to start the second period but were
unable to generate much in the way of chances. That gave New York the
early momentum and the early stages of the period largely resembled the first.
However, Montreal got stronger as the frame went on and actually controlled the
play at times, although they weren’t able to score.
Late goals have been a killer for the Habs in this series and the second
period provided another example of that. Former Hab Dominic Moore, who had
a knack for timely postseason goals with Montreal, scored the first (and only)
goal with just under two minutes left in the period. Brad Richards took a
late hooking penalty, giving the Canadiens the man advantage to start the third
This postseason had been defined by the Canadiens always finding a way to
find another level to stay alive. It wasn’t to be on this night.
They got nothing going with that powerplay and it took over nine minutes before
they recorded their first shot, a 97 foot dump-in from Francis Bouillon.
New York killed the clock quite effectively and although the Habs had a couple
of somewhat-decent chances late, they were unable to tie the game, resulting in
their season coming to an end.
Tokarski was the hard-luck loser in this one, turning aside 31 of 32 Rangers
shots. Henrik Lundqvist wasn’t tested all that often but recorded 18 saves
for the shutout. Special teams weren’t a factor in this one – a rarity in
this series – as both teams didn’t score with the man advantage. Montreal
was 0/2, New York 0/4.
HW 3 Stars of the Night
1st Star: Dustin Tokarski – Although he looked awkward and was
fighting the puck for long stretches, Tokarski did everything he could to keep
the team in the game. In my opinion, it was his best game of the series.
After coughing up four goals last game, this was a terrific response.
Stats: 31 saves on 32 shots, 1.04 GAA, .969 SV%
2nd Star: Alex Galchenyuk – There weren’t many forwards who
really dominated the play but Galchenyuk played well. He was effective
when he moved with Eller and Vanek which earned him some extra ice time while
his creativity in the offensive zone stood out in a game that really didn’t have
much of it from a Montreal perspective.
Stats: 0 points, even rating, 2 shots, 16:01 TOI
3rd Star: Mike Weaver – With Emelin out and Andrei Markov
looking extremely tired, Weaver was called upon to play a bigger role in this
one and he stepped up. He’s a player who hasn’t really drawn much
attention in free agency before but his performance this postseason will really
help get him on the radar if he doesn’t re-sign beforehand.
Stats: 0 points, even rating, 3 hits, 5 blocks (game high), 17:03 TOI
Honourable Mention: Thomas Vanek – Was he one of the best Habs
in this game? Probably not but I did want to highlight that this was his
best game of the series. He paid attention to backchecking, had some nice
plays with the stick, and drew a penalty right in front of the net.
Obviously a goal would have been nice but he did play better at least.
Stats: 0 points, even rating, 1 shot, 2 hits, 2 takeaways, 12:13 TOI
Final Thought: In Game 5, the Habs played to win. On
Thursday night, it looked more like they were playing not to lose. They
just couldn’t find that extra gear when they needed it the most.
Nonetheless, although it’s a sad end to the season, it’s hard to be disappointed
in this group. Not many expected them to get as far as they did and
there’s a lot to be proud of.