MONTREAL – A clinical power play, driven by Montreal's most-clutch player, and a clinic in goaltending Tuesday night at the Bell Centre allowed the Montreal Canadiens to live for another day, further cementing their status as elimination-game Houdinis.
Michael Cammalleri had a goal and an assist on a pair of 5-on-3 tallies and Carey Price made 31 saves, including 11 in the third period, as Montreal earned a season-saving 2-1 victory against Boston at the Bell Centre in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
Game 7 is Wednesday night at TD Garden.
Stretching back to last season's playoffs, Montreal is now six for its last seven when facing elimination. Its only loss came in the Eastern Conference Finals after falling into a 3-1 hole against the Philadelphia Flyers.
But Montreal is not ready to celebrate the fact that it has forced another Game 7. The job, the Canadiens say, is not done.
"I'm not ready tonight to sit here and start praising each other just yet," said Cammalleri, who has 7 goals and 3 assists in Montreal's last seven elimination games.
"We've got a big game coming up, and it's still the first round of the playoffs. Let's keep all the complimenting each other to a minimum right now and worry about getting better."
That attitude went a long way in keeping Montreal alive, says coach Jacques Martin.
"I think it speaks to the characters and the leaders in the dressing room, the people that make up the team," he said. "I think they understand the task and they respond."
Nobody responded more than Price, who had to be on top of his game again. Three nights after making 49 saves in a demoralizing 2-1 loss in double OT, Price outdueled Tim Thomas (25 saves) to take the one-goal decision this time around.
"There's no doubt Carey was outstanding," Martin said. "He's been good every night and he has given us a chance to win, so I think that is a key part in playoff hockey."
Discipline is also a key part of playoff hockey, and the Bruins admitted on Tuesday night that it was missing at times.
Milan Lucic was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct in the second period with the game tied 1-1, and Montreal scored both of its goals on two-man advantages. Not exactly what Boston had in mind when it talked about playing disciplined hockey in this series.
To make matters worse, Boston was 0-for-4 on the power play Tuesday night and is now 0-for-19 in the series.
"It's always the same, you want to use the odd-man advantage to try to score," Boston defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. "They did and we didn't. Five-on-five, I think we did great; special teams that was the thing that kind of hurt us."
The penalty problems started early for Boston when Adam McQuaid was caught making a change too quickly. Cammalleri made sure the officials noticed the too-many-men infraction by rifling a pass right at the defenseman as he stood just a few feet from the Boston bench.
On the ensuing faceoff, Seidenberg took a slashing penalty to give Montreal a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:57. Montreal needed just 69 seconds to capitalize on the two-man advantage as Cammalleri took a one-time feed from P.K. Subban and hammered a shot past Thomas from just above the right faceoff dot.
After Boston tied the game less than a minute into the second period – on a wraparound goal by Seidenberg that beat Price to the far post – Boston ran into penalty trouble again in the second and gave up the winning goal.
Lucic took his boarding penalty at 4:37 when he drilled Spacek headfirst into the glass at center ice. Spacek had to be helped off the ice, but returned later in the period. Sixteen seconds after Lucic was ejected, Patrice Bergeron cleared the puck over the glass from the defensive zone, a mental error that earned him a delay of game penalty.
This time, Brian Gionta scored just 55 seconds into the two-man advantage, shoveling a loose puck past Thomas, who made a great save on the sequence-opening shot by Cammalleri.
"They scored two goals 5-on-3," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "Five-on-four, they weren't a threat and neither were we. Five-on-five, I thought we were obviously a team that held most of the control if the game and that's what we have to do. We have to stay disciplined, stay away from the penalty box like we talked about at the beginning of the series.
"I would have liked to have a 5-on-3, maybe our power play would have scored as well. But it wasn't the case and again, it's one of those games where we tried, we worked hard, we had our chances and we weren't able to bury them. But we're certainly not down or disappointed in our game -- except for the fact those 5-on-3s ended up costing us the game.
The Bruins had won three-straight games to take control of the series, but now face a do-or-die Game 7 on Wednesday.
Last playoff season, Boston had Philadelphia in a 3-0 series hole in the second round, only to watch Philadelphia win four straight games and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. Boston is only third team in history of Stanley Cup Playoffs to blow a 3-0 series lead.
The Bruins now face the prospect of blowing a 3-2 series lead against Montreal. If they win, they'll play Philadelphia in a rematch of last year's conference semifinal. A Montreal victory will also set up a rematch – the Canadiens would play Washington, the team they upset in the first round last year.
But for all the pressure that awaits Boston at home for the deciding game in what has been a mesmerizing series, the Bruins say they are ready for its do-or-die moment.
"We have to take that positive and go home," Boston forward Mark Recchi said. "We'll have our home crowd and it'll be exciting. We've been in this before. We have to stay focused, stay relaxed and go from there."