The Boston Bruins set off on a two-game trip to Montreal fearing the worst. After dropping the first two games in Boston, they traveled north to put an end to Montreal’s streak — and return home having tied the series following two wins at the Bell Centre.
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Michael Ryder’s overtime winner in Game 4 silenced the Montreal crowd as the former Canadien capped a good performance with his second goal of the night. There was no lengthy overtime tension in Montreal. Instead, Ryder took just under two minutes to hand his side the 5-4 victory.
The Canadiens seemed in control of the game as Mike Cammalleri and Andrei Kostitsyn scored 55 seconds apart to build a 3-1 lead. However, Bruins coach Claude Julien called a timeout and it proved vital as his side stormed back thanks to some uneasy Montreal defense.
A bullet from Boston’s Andrew Ference cut Montreal’s lead at the halfway mark before Patrice Bergeron leveled the score prior to the second intermission. The Canadiens re-took the lead when PK Subban’s rocket eluded Tim Thomas on the power play, one of only three power-play chances during the entire game. Boston’s discipline was key against a deadly Habs special team, as the Bruins seemed fairly restrained in their physical play.
The Bruins’ patience paid off as a clever backhander to the net by Ryder was eventually scrambled home by Chris Kelly, his second goal in two games. The Bruins took their patience into overtime and waited as the Canadiens committed too many men forward. A 3-on-1 break for the Bruins was finally battered home by Ryder to tie the series at 2-2, despite questions of offside.
Montreal will be ruing a host of missed chances which would have put them in the driver’s seat. During the first 20 minutes, they outshot Boston 15-8 as the Habs fired puck after puck toward Thomas. Despite giving up two bad goals in Game 3, Thomas looked full of confidence, and despite their dominance, Montreal only led by one goal after the first period.
Montreal was committed and, despite the disadvantage in size, was winning a lot of pucks along the boards. Canadiens center David Desharnais kept up the intensity from start to finish, but he wasn’t joined by his teammates.
Subban may have scored a vital goal, giving Montreal the lead early in the third period, but defensively he made several avoidable errors. Subban wasn’t the only culprit as Roman Hamrlik was unable to clear the puck in a dangerous area, allowing Bergeron to tie the game.
At times, Montreal’s defense seemed more concerned with beating Tim Thomas than protecting Carey Price. The Montreal goaltender has lost his last four playoff games at the Bell Centre, and his lack of confidence will be key as the series heads back to Boston.
The revival of Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta didn’t last long. Both veterans ended the game at minus-3, and despite both grabbing an assist, they couldn’t influence the game. The Canadiens were helped by Andrei Kostitsyn and Mike Cammalleri, who both stepped up and beat Thomas to give their team what looked like a comfortable lead. Cammalleri finished with a goal and two assists as his impressive playoff record continued.
Milan Lucic was one of the Bruins’ key players during the regular season. However, the 22-year-old hasn’t registered a single shot or point during this year’s playoffs, and hasn’t found the net since March 22, some 15 games ago. His 30 goals and 32 assists during the season were a big reason Boston took the Northeast Divsional crown.
With Lucic out of sorts, Ryder stepped up and got the better of his former employers to send his current team home with their heads held high and his opponents scratching their heads in search of answers.