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Pregame Notebook: Game 4 @ Montreal

by Hannah Becker / Boston Bruins – The Bruins avoided a possible sweep with their 4-2 win in Montreal on Monday, and tonight, Boston will look to even the series at 2-2 and regain home ice advantage as they again face the Canadiens in the Bell Centre for Game 4.

The Bruins dropped the first two games at home as Montreal took a 2-0 series lead. The Bruins remain 0-26 when losing the first two games of a series.

Monday’s win was a good start, but Boston is still in a hole and they know they have a lot of work to do to climb out of overtake a Montreal team keen on making another deep playoff run.

The Bruins had two days off in between Games 3 and 4 and traveled to Lake Placid to enjoy some relaxation and to fine tune their game away from the media storm blazing in Montreal.

Game 4 is tonight in the Bell Centre.

Game 3 Recap
Boston scored three of their four goals within the first 30 seconds following a special team’s situation to pick up the 4-2 victory and push Montreal’s series lead to two games to one.

Forward Rich Peverley scores Boston's third goal of Game 3 on Monday night.
“I thought we did a pretty good job of managing the puck and getting the puck out at key times,” Bruins forward Rich Peverley told NESN”s Naoko Funayama after the game.

“We didn’t spend too much time with the puck in their zone in the third period, but I think that’s something we would have liked to have done. I think Timmy made some good saves coming down the end.”

David Krejci started things off for Boston with a breakaway goal just 3:11 into the game. The tally was assisted by Bergeron and Seidenberg and was recorded just second after the Bruins completed their first successful penalty kill of the night.

Nathan Horton gave Boston a 2-0 lead with the first postseason goal of his career at 14:38 in the first.  Horton gained possession behind the net and sliced a bad-angle shot off Price’s back, finding the back of the net.

“We had a really good start. I thought we had a solid first period and played really well and found a way to score some goals,” head coach Claude Julien told NESN after the game.

“They came at us pretty hard but we held the fort.”

Montreal got one back before the end of the second when Andrei Kostitsyn slipped one past Tim Thomas at 7:03.

Tomas Plekanec put the pressure on Boston when he cut their lead to a single goal 4:08 into the third period. But the Bruins were able to hang on behind Thomas’ 34-save performance.

“We probably weren’t as tense as we were in the first two games. And the tenseness of our hockey club just took away a lot of our energy,” Julien added.

“So we seemed to have more energy tonight and it got a little tense at the end, but at least we found a way to win.“

Thomas Reflected on Olympic History
When the Bruins hopped on a bus to Lake Placid after their Game 3 victory, they soon arrived in a place where hockey history in undeniable and even the youngest of rookies can appreciate what happened inside the hollowed walls of the Olympic Center.

But perhaps no Bruin more appreciated the place of history in which he was skating than Tim Thomas.

Always appreciative of the opportunities afforded him as an NHL player and kindly reminiscent of those who paved the way for him, Thomas was basking in Team USA’s Olympic glory throughout this entire visit to the Olympic Center.

"It plain and pretty simple," said Thomas while looking around the spartan dressing room where Team USA's late head coach Herb Brooks gave a speech that reminded his young college-age amateurs that the game against the Soviet professionals was their time and that the USSR's day had passed.

Brooks, a master motivator, was prophetic in a literal and figurative way and Thomas himself looked inspired as he surveyed what the historic spot.

"Already in my head the wheels are turning. You know, recreating what happened those couple of weeks during the Olympics," admitted Thomas after just a few seconds in the room.

Thomas was not unlike many of those who grew up playing ice or street hockey, meaning those hockey-loving people who grew up in the United States during the 80's, the Olympics was the big time and playing for Team USA the highest aspiration.

"Well, I'm from Flint, Michigan and we had a local IHL team and there wasn't a lot of hockey on TV back in those days," said Thomas. "Hockey Night in Canada once a week, basically and not too good of a feed -- a pretty grainy feed at that.

"I guess it wasn’t unusual, but I remember from my early years [the goal] was the Olympics."

So it was USA goaltender Jim Craig and the 1980 Olympians that inspired Thomas to move up the ranks through amateur and professional hockey and Thomas he has used Craig's puck stopping moves as he plied his trade in college or with the Bruins.

“I've done it in practice and I've definitely done it in street hockey," said Thomas with a wide smile under his reddish mustache. "And I've actually used them in games but I not necessarily to the same effectiveness that he did."

Bergeron, Penalty Kill on Point for Bruins
Although they are still struggling through their man-advantage situations, the Bruins have one special team’s operation working: their penalty kill.

Montreal Canadiens defenseman James Wisniewski (20) and Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) dive for a loose puck during the second period in Game 3 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs first-round series, Monday, April 18, 2011, in Montreal. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)
More important than the power play in the postseason, Boston’s penalty killing units have been on top of their game in the first three contests of the series, and will need to continue to do so if the Bruins have any chance at overcoming the early 2-0 series deficit.

“In the playoffs, PKs seem to be trumping the power plays. And that’s in most of the playoff games that we’ve seen as well. And we’ve done a pretty good job against Montreal as well,” Coach Julien said.

“So when you play a team over and over again, you find out their tendencies, so it’s a little better than just playing one game and moving on to the net team in the regular season.”

 The Bruins have a tandem of penalty killing forwards, but perhaps none better then Patrice Bergeron.

“He’s probably been our best forward. He’s played well. [Monday} he was such a good player for us. I think he was first star and well deserved. He was the best player out there and he just competes hard. He’s just so focused and determined and everything about his game is professional,” Julien said of his second line center.

“Whether it’s conditioning, whether it’s rest, whether it’s focus, whether it’s showing up every game to play and there might be times where we talk about Patrice and say well he hasn’t scored in a while. But no matter what he’s always doing something to help the hockey club and that’s what you want in your players. If they are not always producing then they have to do something else to help the team and he does that.

“He works hard, and he’s a great leader.”

The 25-year-old Quebec-native is still in the early stages of his NHL career, but has already become a leader on the ice and in the dressing room.  Wearing the ‘A’ on the ice, Bergeron is a quiet leader who earns the respect of his teammates by practicing what he preaches on and off the ice.

“I think...he’s more vocal than he ever has been. Early in his career, he’s a young player, and he was feeling his way through. But he’s feeling really confident right now about his leadership role and qualities and when he has to speak, he speaks,” Julien said.

 “He’s one those guys who doesn’t speak every game, but when he does speak he’s got the players attention."

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