For the 21st year in a row, there is no springtime joy for the Montreal Canadiens and their faithful.
The dream for Montrealers, to see their beloved Habs back in the Stanley Cup final for the first time since the Canadiens celebrated a championship in 1993, died at Madison Square Garden on Thursday evening.
The only Canadian-based team in the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs made a valiant run. But unlike in the previous three games where they faced elimination and won, they failed to muster much offence. They appeared too tight. They were too sloppy with their puck movement, had too many turnovers and did not establish their forecheck.
The Canadiens only put 18 shots on goal. They couldn't solve the Rangers on this night.
Montreal's best opportunity arrived in the second period with the game still goal-less and Canadiens forward Thomas Vanek in close, but Blueshirts goalie Henrik Lundqvist dropped his stick to make an acrobatic blocker save.
A few shifts later, Moore knocked in a pass from linemate Brian Boyle after a good pinch from Rangers defenceman Ryan McDonagh. The Rangers' fourth line caught Montreal's fourth line as well as the defence pairing of Andrei Markov and Francis Bouillon running around.
Tokarski kept Habs in it
After that, there wasn't much of a push from the Canadiens, even though they opened the final 20 minutes with a power play. The best player for Montreal in Game 6 was goalie Dustin Tokarski, who kept his teammates in the game with another strong outing in the absence of injured starter Carey Price.
So instead of the Canadiens forcing a seventh and deciding game like they did in the second round against the favoured Boston Bruins, it's the Rangers who move on to their first Stanley Cup final in two decades.
Fittingly, the man who led that team to the 1993-94 championship, Mark Messier, was in the house to watch this Rangers club get the job done.
Blueshirts await winner of West
The Rangers will have to wait to see whether they will face the Los Angeles Kings or Chicago Blackhawks when the Stanley Cup final begins Wednesday. The Kings lead the West final 3-2 with Game 6 in Los Angeles on Friday night (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 8:30 p.m. ET).
Whichever team prevails in the West, the Rangers will no doubt be the underdogs.
Still, the Rangers have become a team with so many good storylines:
Ouch. That makes this spring in hockey-mad Montreal all the more painful.
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