By Stacey Kilpatrick
Montreal’s Carey Price [24 saves] may have earned the golden helmet during the first two of the seven-game series against the Boston Bruins, but Tim Thomas wears that helmet after Boston’s 4-2 win Monday night at Montreal’s Bell Centre.
Thomas, who earned a [.9382] save average this season, the best save percentage in an NHL season since the 1982-‘83 campaign, had an impressive night, blocking 34 of 36 shots; 15 of them in the final period.
The B’s held a 3-0 lead early in the second; the team’s first lead in the three-game series so far. David Krejci slapped a 26-footer in with help from Patrice Bergeron and Dennis Seidenberg just 3:11 into the game.
Then Nathan Horton put Boston up by two at 14:38, nailing his first career playoff goal with assistance by the newly hydrated Zdeno Chara and Adam McQuaid, (I guess it is fair to say, Chara is doing just fine these days!).
And it sure was a beaut for Boston Bruin fans since the Bears lost the first two games at home; to be up 2-0 in the third game at Montreal was superb.
With 3.3 seconds left in the first, surprise, surprise, a hefty fight between the two loving teams erupted. Montreal’s Benoit Pouliot took down Andrew Ference; the two each received five minutes for fighting one another, with Pouliot getting two extra minutes tacked on for charging Boston’s Johnny Boychuk.
Rich Peverley added to Boston’s delight, putting the B’s up three to none, with the score on an open net as Price was trying to scramble back in defense after making a bad behind the net pass. Peverley, like Horton, netted his first career playoff goal, with Mark Recchi recording the assist.
Price did, however, follow up with a massive save from a Milan Lucic attempt on a breakaway. And on the rebound, Montreal’s Andrei Kostitsyn, from Michael Cammalleri and Roman Hamrlik, scored with a backhand shot that just slid between Thomas’ legs.
The second ended with the B’s up by two goals, 3-1, with Thomas saving 20 of 21 shots and Price 16 of 19, but Thomas let another puck slide through just 4:08 into the final period.
Montreal was now behind by just one score, 3-2, after a nifty backwards spin goal from Tomas Plekanec, his 9th career playoff goal.
For the B fans, how do you say…”frustrating” in French?
Boston was down the ice for a 3-on-1, the team’s third of the game, but again wasn’t able to capitalize with 6:16 left. Price, again, made two solid blocks from Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton shot attempts.
With less than one minute to play, Montreal took Price out for an extra man, but the Habs’ plan melted as Boston doubled up, making it 4-2 game with 25.6 seconds left.
Recchi and Bergeron skated up the ice, passing to Chris Kelly who scored the empty-netter that secured the Bruins’ first win in their third game of the seven-game series.
The Canadiens lead 2-1. Boston plays at Montreal again on Thursday, April 21, at 7 p.m. in Game 4.