The New York Rangers’ first opportunity to eliminate the Montreal Canadiens couldn’t have turned out much worse for them.
After allowing no more than three goals in each of his previous seven contests, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was chased from Game 5. He turned aside just 15 of 19 shots, although his replacement, Cam Talbot, was no better.
Montreal overcame a second period comeback attempt from the Rangers en route to a 7-4 victory that reduced the series deficit to 3-2. The game also featured its fair share of controversy, as has become the standard in this series.
With one series extended, Chicago will do its best to follow in Montreal’s footsteps.
Game 5: Los Angeles Kings vs. Chicago Blackhawks [Los Angeles leads series 3-1] (8:00 p.m. ET — NBCSN)
A year ago, Los Angeles’ defense of its championship was thwarted by the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final. That moment has stuck with Kings defenseman Drew Doughty.
“It was a frustrating time,” Doughty told the Los Angeles Times. “I wanted to win that Cup again so bad along with all the other guys on my team. It hurts when you can’t get what you want and what you want back.
“It really gave me the drive, even more of ‘the want’ to beat this team just because they did take our season away last year and it’s our turn to do it back to them.”
After a lot of hard work, he finally has the opportunity to put the Blackhawks through exactly what he dealt with, but the completion of his poetic revenge won’t come easy. Chicago has been down this road before — not against the Kings mind you, but the Blackhawks did find themselves behind 3-1 against Detroit in 2013 and they fought back.
“Why can’t we do it again?” Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane asked. “It’s tough in the position we’re in now. But at the same time, we still feel good about our team in here and we all know that we’ve done it before.”
If the Blackhawks are to pull off another comeback, they will need more from Kane. He helped lead them past St. Louis and Minnesota, but the Kings have held him to just one assist in the Western Conference Final. To be fair though, Kane isn’t the only one that’s had a hard time beating goaltender Jonathan Quick.
The other two members of Chicago’s top line, Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell, weren’t exactly great in Chicago’s 5-2 loss on Monday, which is troubling as Chicago needs its first line to dominate to make uniting Toews and Kane worth the hit in depth.
The Blackhawks do have a great cast build around Toews and Kane, but they haven’t shown up so far. Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa have combined for just one goal in this series.
If any of those guys start to click though, the Kings will be in for a fight. Certainly, they’re anticipating a strong effort from Chicago tonight.
“I think we’re in a good place in terms of understanding that we’re playing a really good hockey team, knowing full well we’ll get the full charge tomorrow night,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said, per LA Kings Insider. “We’ll have to be ready for it.”