Canadiens enjoy Bourque's strong playoff showing

Wednesday, 05.28.2014 / 3:00 PM
Sean Farrell  - Correspondent

BROSSARD, Quebec -- The difference between Rene Bourque's play for the Montreal Canadiens during the regular season and the Stanley Cup Playoffs has been astounding.

Montreal coach Michel Therrien is enjoying Bourque's recent results, and he's not concerned about explaining how the left wing's startlingly increased production has come about.

"Before solving Bourque's mystery, I'll let him play a bit more because he's on a roll," Therrien said Wednesday after the Canadiens held an optional practice at their suburban practice facility.

Bourque scored twice Tuesday to complete a hat trick after Montreal blew a 4-1 lead against the New York Rangers. The Canadiens won 7-4 in Game 5 at Bell Centre to stave off elimination for the third time in the playoffs. Montreal trails the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Final 3-2 heading into Game 6 on Thursday at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

Bourque, who was given a cross-checking major and a game misconduct at the end of the game, is tied for second in the NHL with a team-leading eight goals in 16 playoff games. He also has three assists for 11 points. The 32-year-old had nine goals and 16 points in 63 games during the regular season.

"Even through the end of the regular season we saw Rene get engaged in the game a lot more, moving his feet, being physical, going hard to the net," Therrien said. "He was doing a lot of good things. You can't expect a player to score three goals every night, or to score every game, but even if Rene doesn't score he's playing solid hockey. He's getting involved physically and definitely, and [in Game 5] for me that was leadership.

"It was a huge game for us and he came up big, and that's good not only for him but for us, and I really appreciate his effort [Tuesday]."

The play of left wing Alex Galchenyuk also has been a boost for the Canadiens. The 20-year-old has two goals and one assist in four games since returning from a knee injury that sidelined him for six weeks, including the first two rounds of the playoffs and the series opener against the Rangers.

Galchenyuk got credit for a power-play goal to open the scoring Tuesday when teammate P.K. Subban's one-timer struck him on its way past Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

"He's going to the dirty areas, and that's where you need to go if you want to score," Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges said. "Ninety percent of the goals are scored right in front of the net, in the crease. They're not going to be cheap goals, but he's had some success because he's been able to go there."

Therrien said Galchenyuk has gotten better with every game, and center Lars Eller said he is impressed that Galchenyuk has come back so strong.

"I think better than anybody expected him to because he was out for quite a time," Eller said. "He's done everything we could ask from him. He's playing well. He's filling out his role being an important player for us. So we hopefully will see the same from him going forward."

Therrien confirmed forward Brandon Prust will be in the lineup Thursday for Game 6 at Madison Square Garden. Prust served a two-game suspension for his late hit on former teammate Derek Stepan in Game 3. Defenseman Alexei Emelin missed Game 5 because of an undisclosed injury but accompanied the team to New York.

Therrien also had no update on the health of forward Dale Weise, who left the game for a short time in the third period after being hit in the head by Rangers defenseman John Moore at 10:31 of the third period. Weise went to the locker room for a little while but returned later in the period.

Moore was assessed a match penalty for the hit at 10:31 of the third period and suspended two games following a hearing Wednesday with the NHL Department of Player Safety.

Injured goalie Carey Price was on the ice in full equipment for a second straight day. He worked out with goalie coach Stephane Waite as he continues to work his way back from an apparent right knee injury sustained in Game 1 of the series. However, Therrien has said that Price will not return in the series.

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