The picture of the “Final Four” is getting clearer in the NHL playoffs as the Montreal Canadiens finally got past the Boston Bruins in a game 7 on the road to win 3-1 and take the second spot in the Eastern Conference Finals (where the New York Rangers are waiting), while the Los Angeles Kings beat the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 to give themselves another shot by forcing a seventh game in the series.
Things as expected got ugly between the Habs and the Bruins. The trash talking didn’t end once the game and series ended, as the Canadiens kept talking about being disrespected by the Bruins, while Boston players referred to those from Montreal as babies. It doesn’t really matter. It’s been 21 years since Montreal have been to the Stanley Cup finals (winning their 24th) and now have a date with the New York Rangers who also needed seven games to get through the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Carey Price had a good day in goal with 29 saves. Dale Weise scored the opening goal for the Habs, followed by one from Max Pacioretty, turning out to be the winner. Jarome Iginla got the Bruins back in the game with a power play goal, but the Habs got one of their own in the third period, Daniel Briere scoring his second of the playoffs. It is only the second time through this 21-year drought that the Habs have made it to the conference finals.
What’s left is the talk. About not liking each other. About Being disrespectful. Too much pride, history, rivalry and hate between the two teams to simply shake hands and say goodbye as friends. But the Bruins weren’t good enough in the final game to generate immense pressure on Carey and his defense. They let this one slip away from them, holding a 3-2 lead but getting shut out in Montreal (game 6), setting themselves up for the failure on what turned out to be their final day of the season.
Out West, where usually the rivalries are less intense, the Ducks three game winning streak is over. They still host game 7 but momentum is now back with the Kings, taking a 2-1 win with goals from Jake Muzzin and Trevor Lewis before Kyle Palmieri pegged one back for the visitors. As expected, the Kings rise to the challenge, as they have over the last few years, when their backs are against the wall.
Jonathan Quick made 21 saves in the game as the Kings are trying to make the conference finals for a third consecutive time. They won the competition in 2012, their first ever Stanley Cup, and lost to the Blackhawks in the third round of the playoffs last year, not posing too much problems for the eventual champions. It wasn’t very easy getting through this game 6, although the players on the ice never seemed to lose their cool.
They survived two power plays with some excellent defense during the third period and never seemed out of depth or in a situation where it was going to slip away from them in a frantic few final seconds. For the Ducks, they still feel fairly confident about finishing the job. Winning three in a row and not being too far from clinching the series with a fourth. Now it remains to be seen if recent experience will be enough to carry the Kings through.