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Matt Fraser Gets Night Fit for an OT Hero, as Bruins Even Series

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

MONTREAL - There was Matt Fraser, proudly wrapped in the Bruins' Player of the Game Jacket, with the tan leather sleeves, and black felt-like varsity jacket with the old school Spoked-B patch over his heart.

He had just made the media rounds on NBCSN and CBC and had made his way to an area outside the Bruins' visiting team locker room at the Bell Centre. The locker room would not fit the amount of reporters and cameras that would be packed into this media scrum.

These were postgame rounds fit for an overtime hero.

At 1:19 into extra time at the Bell Centre on Thursday night, Fraser forced a loose puck in behind Carey Price to give the Bruins the 1-0 victory and even the series with the Habs at 2-2.

It was his first NHL playoff goal in his first NHL playoff game. The Bruins were headed back to Boston a happy bunch, and Fraser likely smiling the whole way.

"As you can tell in my voice, it’s pretty exciting," laughed Fraser, through a shaky, adrenaline-pumping, emotion-filled voice. "You know, I hardly slept today, and I’m sure I’ll hardly sleep tonight."

"I can’t put it into words," said Fraser. "The excitement — again, I’m still shaking with excitement, and again, it’s every kid’s dream to score an overtime goal like that and to contribute."

The winger who was proudly wearing the Spoked-B had been with the group for a little more than 24 hours, after being called up from Providence.

"I actually turned my phone off today. It was just easier to focus on the game, rather than talk to everyone," Fraser admitted through a smile. "But I’m sure I’ll - it’s important that I talk to my parents."

Think Mom and Dad would be okay with the delay.

"I’ll probably try to talk to them after the game and hopefully my dad is impressed with this one," said Fraser.

By the time most teammates in Black & Gold were stripped of their equipment and in their workout clothes speaking with reporters, Fraser was still in nearly full gear with the jacket on top as he made his way into the locker room during media availability.

It was the same room where they had all convened, about a half hour earlier, before heading out down the tunnel and onto the ice for overtime.

"Nothing was said in the room before," said Fraser. "But the couple of overtime games we played in Providence, it always seemed like the overtime goal happened quick in the overtime period."

Fraser was drawing on his most recent experience, notching the OT-winner he scored in the P-Bruins second postseason game to even their series at 1-1 with Springfield. His winner came at 3:54 into the extra frame.

On Thursday, he became the first player to ever score an overtime goal in both the Calder Cup Playoffs and Stanley Cup Playoffs in the same season.

"So you've just got to be ready," said Fraser. "And I’d be lying if I wasn’t nervous every time the puck came in our zone, but it’s fun. Young guy, you've got to go out there and play to your strengths and have fun."

"We're working tough enough to get that next goal," Daniel Paille had told 98.5 The Sports Hub after the end of regulation. "What it's going to take is someone outbattling the other, so that has to be us."

The OT goal in Montreal was indicative of the hard work of Fraser's line all night. After the line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith took the opening faceoff in overtime, it was all Fraser, Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson, joining with Matt Bartkowski and Johnny Boychuk for a relentless shift.

Boychuk blocked a shot by Lars Eller, and then Bartkowski skated the puck up ice. Fraser fired an initial shot blocked away. Boychuk tried a slapper that went just wide and bounced off the glass and behind Price's net. Soderberg pounced on the puck, wrapped around the right side and backhanded it while falling.

Price was there, but he wasn't there when Fraser forced in the loose puck.

"Fraser just seemed to fit in there," said Julien. "He came in when he played with us on that third line for a little bit."

Fraser was called up for a month with the Bruins from December to early January, when Boston was without the services of Chris Kelly, Daniel Paille, Loui Eriksson and Shawn Thornton. He spent the month playing with Soderberg.

"So he had been with Carl anyways for a little bit, so it’s not like he was in some uncharted territory," said Julien. "He had a pretty good idea of how those guys play and they just made things happen. They work hard, they get it back quickly and I think that’s what’s given that line some good looks."

Through the first three games of the series, and regulation in Game 4, the Bruins hadn't been able to cash in on many generated chances. The Habs have done a strong job clearing the net. Price sees nearly every shot.

"You want to be hungry and guys in the end did a really good job to never give up on that puck," said Zdeno Chara.

"Second and third efforts, and I think that was the difference."

As Fraser and the Bruins filtered into the locker room postgame, Chara no doubt walked over and congratulated the forward at his stall. He's always made it a point to do that.

"It’s pretty impressive that for a guy that hasn’t spent that much time with us, filling the role on the spot, and I thought that he did really well tonight, " said Chara, who broke into a slight smile. "And obviously got the game-winner."

Veteran Jarome Iginla was impressed, too.

"I never have [seen that] and that’s pretty cool," said Iginla, when asked if he'd seen a similar situation before, with a callup coming in. "You know, obviously just getting a win but it’s a pretty neat story. Those are what you dream of when you’re a little kid getting, called up, and the OT goal — and not just the OT goal, but the one goal in the whole game."

"We’re happy he scored, it’s a pretty cool story and he played a great game. Their line, they got a lot of chances all night."

They were able to keep creating those chances, because Tuukka Rask was sharp between the pipes all night, making 33 saves for the Bruins' first playoff shutout against Montreal since 2004.

"It’s great. A lot of times, that’s the kind of guy who scores those goals," said Rask.

"Tonight [Tuukka] was as good as you can be," said Iginla. "Giving us that chance to find that one goal."

That one goal was a series-changer. Boston's now tied up heading back home, and if those back home didn't know Matt Fraser before, they certainly do now.

“Wow" was Fraser's first thought before the puck dropped on Game 4 at the Bell Centre, with the thunderous crowd, the national anthems, the emotional atmosphere of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"I mean, I’ve played two exhibition games here before and I was really like, oh, okay, 'here we go,'" said Fraser. But this was completely new for him.

And the sea of media surrounding the overtime hero?

That was completely new, too. And he didn't mind it one bit.

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