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Canadian Press 4/11/2004 (22h)
MONTREAL (CP) – Alex Kovalev scored two goals in the first period as the Montreal Canadiens struck back at the Boston Bruins with a 3-2 NHL playoff victory on Sunday night.
Boston holds a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final with Game 4 set for Tuesday night at the Bell Centre.
Kovalev, held to only one empty-net goal in his first 14 games after he was acquired at the trading deadline, put Montreal back into a series the Bruins had controlled after winning the first two games in Boston.
Andrei Markov also scored for Montreal, which outshot the ailing Bruins 32-23, including 14-6 in the second period.
Andy Hilbert scored for Boston in his first career playoff game in the opening period and Brian Rolston closed the gap to 3-2 with a goal early in the third.
For the first time in the series, the Bruins looked vulnerable.
They were without centre Michael Nylander, who the team said had a flu, and centre Ted Donato, who is out 4-to-6 weeks with a broken foot. Nylander led Boston with two goals and two assists in the first two games. They also have star centre Joe Thornton playing with a suspected rib injury.
The sellout crowd of 21,273 was electric as the game began, with fans chanting the name of Boston’s rookie goaltender Andrew Raycroft, who had allowed only one goal in the opening two matches, to try to put him off his game.
Raycroft let in his first shot when Kovalev took a pass from Saku Koivu, put a deke on the Boston goaltender and shot into an open side of the goal only 2:16 into the game.
The crowd went silent, however, when Hilbert’s medium-speed shot from the right side beat Jose Theodore cleanly over the left shoulder. Theodore had looked weak in allowing an overtime goal in Game 2.
But Kovalev restored the lead at 15:24, when he opted to shoot on a 2-on-1 and beat Raycroft to the stick side.
Montreal dominated the middle period and Markov moved in from the point to bang in Richard Zednik’s rebound at 13:32 with the teams each a man short.
Rolston moved in on the left side and blasted a shot in off Theodore’s left skate to close the gap to 3-2 at 3:35 of the third frame.
Theodore was given assists on both Kovalev goals, marking only the third time in playoff history a goalie has earned two assists in a game. The others were Pittsburgh’s Tom Barrasso in 1993 and Edmonton’s Grant Fuhr in 1991.
Notes – For a second straight game, enforcer Darren Langdon replaced centre Yanic Perreault for Montreal. … Hilbert and centre Craig McDonald saw their first playoff action for Boston, although McDonald saw little ice time. … The Canadiens have never been swept in the first round of a best-of-seven series.
Source : TSN – (CP)