Carey Price made 48 saves before defenseman P.K. Subban's power-play goal 4:17 into the second overtime gave Montreal a 4-3 victory at TD Garden and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7 series. Game 2 is scheduled for Saturday (12:30 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS) at the Garden.
"I feel good. That's what we train for all year," Price said. "We haven't been sitting on the couch all season for nothing or practicing all year for nothing. It's just gut check time and that's really what it comes down to."
Boston defenseman Matt Bartkowski was sent off at 4:10 of the second OT for hauling down Montreal forward Dale Weise. Off the draw, Danny Briere got the puck to Andrei Markov, who found Subban, his defense partner, for a straightaway blast through a screen that beat Tuukka Rask cleanly for the win.
It was Subban's second power-play goal of the game; he didn't score during Montreal's first-round sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He finished the night with 33:49 of ice time in a game that the Canadiens won despite being unable to hold leads of 2-0 and 3-2 in the third period.
"I think that I always play my best when I'm playing a lot. I don't think there was any shortage of ice time today," Subban said. "When you're in those situations and when you know that other guys are tired and you can still find a way to kind of beat that guy, win that battle. I always feel as the games goes on, the more I play, the more I'm into it, the more focused I am, the sharper I am."
The Bruins outshot Montreal 51-33, a total that would have been higher had the Canadiens not blocked 30 shots. Rask finished with 29 saves and heaped much of the blame for the loss on his play.
"I don't know. We played overall good 5-on-5, pretty much dominated. Had a lot of chances, couldn't score," Rask said. "But I was [garbage] today. I've got to be better."
Boston trailed 2-0 after two periods but came out roaring to start the third. Forward Reilly Smith made it 2-1 when he scored on a seeing-eye shot from the outside right hash mark with Patrice Bergeron screening Price at the right post at 2:44.
Defenseman Torey Krug tied the game 2-2 at 6:30. After Milan Lucic gained the zone he passed across the ice to Krug, who stopped the puck and beat Price with a slap shot from just about the left dot. The Bruins' goals came on consecutive shots and were two of three shots on Price in the first 6:30 of the period.
Montreal coach Michel Therrien responded to the goals by calling his timeout.
Defenseman Francis Bouillon put the Canadiens back in front at 12:09. Brian Gionta set him up with a pass from the goal line for a one-timer from the top of the left circle that beat Rask high to the glove side after the Canadiens were buzzing around Boston's net for several seconds.
Boston defenseman Johnny Boychuk answered Bouillon's goal with a straightaway blast from just inside the blue on that beat Price high through a screen with 1:58 left in regulation to tie the score 3-3.
The Bruins outshot the Canadiens 14-6 in the third period and again in the first overtime. Carl Soderberg had the best chance when he redirected a Kevan Miller shot off the end wall through Price's five-hole, and the puck slid wide of the far post.
The Bruins won the territorial battle and outshot the Canadiens 13-10 in the opening period of the 34th Stanley Cup Playoff series between the teams. But Montreal won the special-teams showdown and took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. With Bartkowski off for tripping, the Canadiens spread the Bruins' penalty-killers wide and Subban beat Rask with a wrist shot from the blue line through traffic at 11:23.
"Our timing was off, to be honest. We played like a team that hasn't played in 10 days," said Montreal coach Michel Therrien, whose team hadn't played since completing the sweep of the Lightning on April 22. "But the positive side of things is that even if I expect us to be better in the next game, we found a way to win. That's what's important."
The Canadiens' offensive efficiency continued in the second period, when they were outshot 9-7 but scored the lone goal. Boychuk's cross-ice pass at the Boston blue line proved too hot to handle for Krug and the Canadiens turned it into a 3-on-1. Lars Eller hit Rene Bourque with a pass at the blue line, and Bourque beat Rask with a snap shot from the right circle high over the short-side shoulder at 3:28.
Boston's first power play included several opportunities, including a Dougie Hamilton shot off the right post, but Price remained perfect on 22 shots faced through two periods.
Like the Detroit Red Wings in the first round, the Canadiens managed to win the first game on the road against the Presidents' Trophy-winning Bruins.
"You look at the Bruins record all season, this is a place where it's very difficult to win," Therrien said. "Every time you can manage to get a win here it's an accomplishment, no matter how you do it. It wasn't a classic. Carey Price was extraordinary; the power play was very effective. We definitely wanted to go get that first game. I feel my team will become more and more involved in the series the longer it goes, because we haven't played for 10 days. So this was a huge win for the confidence of our team."