Season series: This best-of-seven series is suddenly best-of-three now that Boston has run off two straight road wins to even things up at two victories apiece. Boston’s 5-4 overtime victory in Thursday’s Game 4, a game in which the Bruins rallied three times, has set the stage for a pivotal Game 5.
Big story: Nobody can win at home in this postseason series.
Montreal, the lower seed, stole the first two games – and home-ice advantage – by marching into Boston and defensively strangling the Bruins.
However, Boston found its scoring touch upon arriving in Montreal. Instead of the Bell Centre becoming its usual house of horrors for the Bruins, it served as a launching pad for an inspiring comeback for a very serious 0-2 hole.
The Bruins will have to find a way to win a game at TD Garden in order to win this series now, but the team insists it is not worried about the location of the games quite yet.
"We've just got to keep getting better and not worry about where we're playing," Boston coach Claude Julien said Friday, "but how we're playing."
Canadiens: Montreal spent Friday wondering what happened. Less than a week ago, the Canadiens were in the driver’s seat, leading two games to none and asking questions of the Bruins that Boston seemed ill-prepared to answer.
But after some uncharacteristic defensive lapses, particularly in Thursday’s Game 4, it is the Canadiens that are being asked for answers to some very difficult questions being posed by the Bruins.
"Obviously, guys were disappointed (Thursday)," captain Brian Gionta said. "It was an emotional game and a tough game to lose, for sure. We were up twice in that game, 3-1 and then 4-3 in the third. We wanted to have that win, but today there's nothing we can do about it. We just have to prepare for (Saturday)."
Montreal goalie Carey Price certainly will have to be prepared. After frustrating Boston with his near-perfect play in the first two games, Price gave up eight goals in the past two outings and has looked far more human, giving Boston shooters confidence.
"Obviously I'm not happy with the result," Price said. "Who would be? Five goals. But I felt good about my game. I played the game probably four times in my head. I wouldn't have changed a whole lot."
Bruins: The Bruins saved their season, but it won’t mean a whole lot if they allow Montreal to steal another road game on Saturday.
The Bruins showed some serious character to claw back into the series, particularly in game 4. In front of a hostile crowd sensing blood, Boston erased deficits of 1-0, 3-1 and 4-3 before winning the game less than two minutes into OT on a goal by Michael Ryder.
"We just believed," Boston captain Zdeno Chara said, echoing the message alternate captain Mark Recchi delivered throughout a two-day respite in Lake Placid before Game 4.
The Bruins now have to believe they can win at home against the Canadiens. To do so, they will have to stay with the patient, clinical game plan that helped them turn the tide in Games 3 and 4. Simply, Boston needs to get in on the forecheck and use its superior size to wear down the Canadiens and force turnovers. On the defensive side, Boston knows it must limit the amount of turnovers it makes in the neutral zone.
"Throughout the season, we've had some games where we've learned that getting away from (the system) doesn't help," Boston forward Shawn Thornton said. "The discipline through all 20 guys, and the coaching staff really emphasizing that you don't need to go out and do something all on your own, just stick with it, stick with it, and it ended up paying off."
Who's hot: Picking up where he left off last postseason, Michael Cammalleri is red-hot. He has a series-best 7 points in the first four games, more than double the point total of any other player on the Montreal roster. … For Boston, the third-line duo of Chris Kelly and Ryder has been carrying the load. Ryder had both the opening and closing goals for Boston in Game 4 and added an assist on the final game-tying goal. Kelly, who is playing with a facial fracture suffered in Game 3, assisted on both Ryder’s goals and also scored the goal that tied the game at 4-4 late in the third.
Injury report: Jeff Halpern, who had not played since March 30, returned to Montreal’s lineup for Game 4. … Kelly, who suffered a facial fracture in game 3 after falling into a goal post, played effectively in Game 4 despite wearing a full shield. He is expected to play in Game 5 as well.
Stat pack: The road team won 19 of the first 33 playoff games so far this year. … Boston is 0-for-12 on the power play in this series. Montreal has just two power-play goals. … Chara played a game-high 27:49 in Game 4. … Gionta and Boston’s Patrice Bergeron each managed a game-high seven shots in Game 4. … Bergeron also added a game-high 4 hits.
Puck drop: "We've done (comebacks) a few times during the regular season this year, but this is the playoffs. It was great to see we can do this under playoff pressure. It was fun to be a part of. I hope people feel like they got their money's worth, because it took two years off my life." – Boston goalie Tim Thomas on Game 4.