Jose Theodore finally turned in a solid performance and the rest of the team came up huge as the Montreal Canadiens smacked the Boston Bruins in the Fleet Centre by a score of 5-1. Despite being the better team,
Theodore was just about perfect in this one, handling 43 of 44 shots fired his way, his only blemish coming on a redirect from the side of the net off the stick of Glen Murray. With the large screen in front, it seemed he saw neither the pass nor the tip that pulled the Bruins to within two at 3-1.
The entire organization will surely breath a sigh of relief after finally seeing their star goalie perform like a star, rather than a retread. Hopefully they can build on this game, and the positive fact that they’ve been the better team this series, and force a game seven in
Also in fine form was Saku Koivu and his line of Richard Zednik and Alex Kovalev. As usual, this line dominated virtually every time they hit the ice and created numerous chances. They cashed in once at even strength and twice on the power play and were easily the best trio on the ice in front of a eager and confident
It should be noted that the crowd showed a gesture of class that the Bell Centre fans can only aspire to at this point. When a smattering of boos rang out during the Canadian national anthem, they were immediately drowned out by one of the better gestures in recent memory as the capacity crowd broke into a rousing applause for the duration of Canada’s theme. At the very least, the fans can go home proud of their actions on this night.
Taking a nice feed from Jason Ward, Yanic Perreault skated hard at the Boston goalie and fired a low shot that somehow went in to give the Canadiens the early lead and silence the crowd. Though it was early, it was easily the turning point in the game as the Bruins never looked the same again.
Later in the period the antics of Mike Ribeiro came back to haunt the team as Zednik took a cross check to the back of the head resulting in no call. The referees are gun shy to call against the Habs, and rightly so since Ribeiro’s death throes.
It wasn’t until just after the seven minute mark of the second period that Montreal put some distance between them and the Bruins. After a Boston giveaway, Zednik dished a pass to Koivu whose immediate, and very accurate, cross ice feed allowed Kovalev to swing home the Habs second of the game.
The rest of the second was slowly moving into Boston’s favour until, near the end of the period, Joe Thornton took a terrible double minor to seriously penalize his team. After running into Theodore, his frustration crept in and he belted Andrei Markov across the mouth. All the energy that Boston had been building seeped out as from a pierced balloon.
The third had the Habs starting on the power play, but despite having almost four minutes, they could barely gain the Boston zone, let alone create solid scoring chances. Right after the end of the penalty, though, Thornton came out, lost control of the puck to Zednik, then had his stick caught in the boards allowing the Montreal winger free access to the net. Zednik made no mistake as he shifted around a sprawling Raycroft to put the Habs up by three.
The Bruins looked to be gaining a little momentum again after the Murray goal, but once again frustration and a lack of discipline served to shoot them in the foot. With two men off, including Sergei Gonchar on a high sticking penalty to Ribeiro, Koivu collected a rebound on a Sheldon Souray shot and slid the puck past Raycroft for his first of the playoffs.
Before the second penalty was out, Thornton took yet another silly penalty and the Habs made him pay when Koivu dished a neat pass to Craig Rivet, whose blast from the point beat a screened, and obviously frustrated, Raycroft as the final goal of the game.
All Montreal fans can hope now is that the team continues playing much as they have for the last four games and that Theodore continues to bring his A game. If those two objectives are met, then anything is possible. It’s just a matter of playing their game and maintaining discipline and these Bruins can be beaten.