|Alex Kovalev and Saku Koivu teamed up to shock the Bruins in 2004.
MONTREAL -- As the Canadiens and Bruins gear up to renew hostilities beginning on Thursday night at the Bell Centre, here’s a look back at some of the memorable playoff clashes between these storied rivals. First up, their first-round battle in 2004. Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Boston (2) vs Montreal (7)
After missing the playoffs in 2002-03, the Canadiens returned to the postseason the following spring led by head coach Claude Julien. The seventh-seeded Habs would face a stiff test in the form of the Northeast Division champion Bruins. The teams were coming off a hotly-contested regular season, which saw Mike Sullivan’s Bruins post a 3-2-1 record against the Canadiens, with four of the six meetings being decided by one goal.
The series kicked off in Boston on April 7 and would-be Calder Trophy winner Andrew Raycroft wasted no time making an impression. The young goalie blanked the Habs in Game 1 before making 25 more saves in Game 2 to give the Bruins a 2-0 series lead before heading to Montreal.
Game 3 at the Bell Centre was all about Alex Kovalev, who led the way with a pair of goals in a 3-2 win to close the gap in the series. That momentum was short-lived as the Bruins escaped with a double overtime victory on a strange night that included a collision between Kovalev and Sheldon Souray on Glen Murray’s winning goal.
Despite having their backs against the wall and never in franchise history having come all the way back from a 3-1 series deficit, the Habs refused to go quietly. The red-hot line of Saku Koivu, Richard Zednik and Kovalev erupted for six points while Jose Theodore made 43 saves in a 5-1 win to keep Montreal alive.
It was more of the same in Game 6 with the Canadiens cruising to a 5-2 victory to force a seventh and deciding game at the Fleet Center in Boston.
The stage was set for a classic goaltending duel. With the game scoreless after 50 minutes and Theodore and Raycroft matching save for save, Zednik finally broke the ice, providing the Habs with all the offense they would need. Zednik then drove the final stake through the hearts of Bruins fans by adding an empty netter, while Theodore picked up a 32-save shutout. The trio of Zednik, Koivu and Kovalev combined for a total of 24 points in the series, helping the Canadiens complete the greatest playoff comeback in team history.Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com