There is really only one way to describe Rene Bourque’s 2013-14 regular season with the Montreal Canadiens. To steal from another LWOS writer’s column, I’ll do it in one word: “Brutal“.
Bourque floated for long stretches this season, spent time as a healthy scratch, looked afraid to play physically, and was more or less a shell of the player who scored 27 goals in back-to-back seasons for the Calgary Flames. In this 2013-14 regular season, he had only 9 goals.
There were even rumors that the Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche were close to a deal that would have sent Bourque to Denver. Luckily for the Habs and their fans, it didn’t come to pass.
With a disappointing regular season behind him, Bourque entered the playoffs with rekindled confidence. He almost immediately started hitting the twine, beginning with a two-goal showing in game two of the Canadiens first round playoff series with Tampa. He continued his hot streak and was tied for the team lead with 5 goals coming into the Eastern Conference Final game five, and with the Canadiens down 3-1 to the New York Rangers and facing a must-win game, Rene Bourque saved his best performance for this night.
ECF Game 5: Canadiens 7 Rangers 4
The Canadiens came out of the gate on fire and built-up a 3-goal cushion (4-1) by the middle of the second period. Bourque’s first goal of the game chased Rangers superstar goalie Henrik Lundqvist from the ice. It seemed like the Canadiens were well on their way to a victory, and thoughts began to turn to Thursday’s game 6.
The Rangers had different thoughts, and 3 quick goals tied the game in just five minutes. Things seemed to be unraveling for le bleu, blanc, et rouge. Blowing a 3-goal lead certainly ushered in panic amongst the on-lookers at the Bell Centre. That is until the hero of this day emerged.
Just 58 seconds after Chris Kreider tied the game for New York, Bourque let a rocket of a wrist shot go that would put the Canadiens back in the lead, beating Cam Talbot to the top corner on his blocker side. From there he would complete the hat-trick in the third period, taking a pass from Dale Weise to break in all alone and beat Talbot.
The Rangers would press to get back in the game, but Montreal’s newest goaltending hero, Dustin Tokarski, shut the door for the duration. Tokarski’s performance includes a number of tough saves on the penalty kill, including a pivotal third period 5-on-3. David Desharnais scored into an empty net late to complete the boxscore.
But the story of this night was Rene Bourque, now with 8 goals in these playoffs, and just one shy of his entire regular season total. To describe his playoffs in a word: Redemption.
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