Despite being the better team, the Canadiens lost to the Bruins by a score of 4-3 in double overtime when Glen Murray picked up a loose puck caused by a Montreal collision and beat Jose Theodore on a breakaway. Despite a valiant effort, particularly by the line of Saku Koivu and the defence of Andrei Markov and Craig Rivet, it was an unfortunate set of circumstances which eventually cost the winning goal.
After making a solid defensive play, Souray saw the loose puck picked up by Koivu at the near boards and his cross ice pass hit the tape of Alex Kovalev. This latter turned across the blue line but was clipped by a slash across the wrist which caused him to double over with pain and loose control of the puck. When Souray made a mad dash to regain control, he failed to see Kovalev and crashed into the ailing Hab sending the puck free. Murray made quick work of the loose puck.
Claude Julien will wonder how big a downer the end result will be despite his team dominating much of the game. For long stretches in the first and second, as well as most of the third and two overtime periods, the Canadiens were the better team. They had chance after chance, particularly the line of Koivu, Kovalev and Zednik, but on each attempt were thwarted by Andrew Raycroft.
Canadiens fans, in their haste to place blame on the Habs scorers, might want to hearken back to two years ago when Jose Theodore stole a series. It seems Montreal is on the other end of the rope in this playoff round. Certainly, Theodore ahs been anything but spectacular since the playoffs started.
While the game started in Boston‘s favour, the Habs slowly wrested control from the Bruins and began attacking more and more. This was not, however, before the Bruins could exact a little revenge on the Habs for the miserable acting display offered by Mike Ribeiro in the last game.
Early in the first Markov was completely flattened by Joe Thornton with a completely legal check, but which caught the Montreal defender with his head down. Markov spent quite a few moments on the ice and there was significant concern – particularly of a potential concussion – before he managed to pull himself back into the game.
After that, the rest of the first belonged to the Habs, and they scored very quickly to give themselves the solid start they needed. Of all people, Mike Ribeiro was the recipient of a series of half misses while he was posted in front of the Boston goal when he put the Habs up by one. First Mike Ryder miscued on a pass to Pierre Dagenais, yet the puck somehow made it. Then the latter fired a shot which merely bounced toward the Boston goal. When Ribeiro managed to deflect the shot into the far post, pandemonium ensued from the capacity crowd.
Boston clawed back late in the period when Jim Dowd lost Mike Nylander and the Bruins’ low percentage shot somehow eluded Theodore. It was yet another goal that the Habs goalie will surely have nightmares about this evening being yet another goal that should have been easily stopped. It’s the kind of gla that’s become common with the Hab goalie unfortunately – and the sort of goal that seems on its way to costing the Habs the series.
Montreal did answer back just before the period was up, however, when Kovalev found the puck in the crease and slid home his third of the playoffs to give the Habs a one goal lead heading into the second. Dowd did all the work for the goal, entering and circling the Boston zone, before the fortuitous Kovalev scored.
The second started with a bang for Montreal when Jason Ward out-worked two Boston players and had the puck go to Ribeiro who once again profited with his second goal of the night.
The enthusiasm for the two-goal lead was tempered somewhat when Stephane Quintal, in going for the puck in front of the Boston net on a sweet pass from Mike Ryder, was hooked to the ice and crashed heavily into the boards. While he came back to play for the rest of the second, he missed the third and overtime with a suspected arm injury.
After a series of chances that were saved by Raycroft, the Bruins capitalized and scored another weak goal on Theodore. This time, after a failed clearance by Jan Bulis, Jiri Slegr fired a shot from the point that somehow went through the Hab goaltender.
The Habs and Bruins entered the third without captains as the two held something of a dust up late in the second as each used his stick liberally on the other. While Boston may have been disappointed in losing Thornton, it was the Habs who lost out more on the exchange, as the Canadiens captain has significantly outplayed the Bruins captain.
Montreal almost completely dominated the third, particularly the captain’s line, as they fired shot after shot and had chance after chance on the Bruins. It was only a simply awesome Raycroft that kept Boston in a game that should, by all rights, have gotten out of hand on the scoreboard. Surprisingly, the Habs were awarded a five-on-three when penalties were called that normally would have been overlooked. Sadly, impatience as well as a little poor luck left the Habs without a goal.
With the goalie pulled and only about thirty seconds on the clock, the Habs won a defensive zone faceoff but lost possession of the puck. Mike Knuble was able to push away his checker in front of the Montreal net and score the tying goal to send the game to overtime.
The extra frames were almost completely dominated by the Koivu line who, every time they were on the ice, had a scoring chance but could not capitalize against the stingy goaltending provided by the Bruin net minder. At one point Zednik hit a post, and Koivu twice had shots from the middle of the slot. Kovalev also had a shot from the edge of the crease that Raycroft managed to save with his posterior.
It was against the run of play, therefore, that saw Boston scoring the winning goal and sending the series back to Boston up by three games to one.
Montreal certainly can feel no shame as they’ve had at least an equal right to winning each of the last three games. They’ve lost two in overtime and won the other, and on both the losses, they can look back at the one player they should be able to count on and wonder ‘what if?’
The series isn’t over yet, though, and Montreal has certainly proved they can compete with these Bruins. It’s all on Julien’s shoulders now to pull the best from the Habs and see if he can force a game six back in the Bell Centre.