The Boston Bruins
aren’t going anywhere — except to Montreal for a seventh and deciding game in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
For the second straight game, the Bruins avoided elimination by beating the Canadiens with a four-goal third period. On Saturday, Marco Sturm scored with 2:37 remaining in regulation to give the Bruins a wild 5-4 victory over Montreal, evening their best-of-seven series at three wins apiece.
Montreal missed a chance to wrap up the series on Thursday when the Bruins scored four times in the third period for a 5-1 win. This time, the Canadiens led 2-1 entering the third period, but Boston beat Montreal rookie Carey Price four times to push the series to the limit.
“The guys are resilient,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “I don’t think we’re ready to go away yet.”
Price, whose misplay led to the go-ahead goal in Game 5, was blameless on the five Boston goals but couldn’t hold off the determined Bruins.
''Our best player has to be our best player,'' Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said when asked about Price's problems.
But winning Game 7 won’t be easy. Boston has lost all 20 series in which it trailed 3-1 — this is the first time it’s gotten to a seventh game. The Bruins have lost both Game 7s they’ve played in Montreal — 3-1 in the 1952 semifinals and 5-4 in overtime in the semifinals in 1979, a game in which they led with less than three minutes to play in regulation. Overall, the Canadiens have won 23 of the 30 playoff series between the teams, including four of six that went to a seventh game.
Then again, the eighth-seeded Bruins weren’t expected to get this far. They lost all eight regular-season games to Montreal and fell behind 2-0 and 3-1 in this series. But every time they’ve had a chance to fold, they’ve stood up and made a play to keep the series going.
“We’re resilient. It’s the understanding that there’s not a whole lot of pressure,” defenseman Aaron Ward said. “When we came into the series, the understanding was that they were the favorite, and we’ve had a tough task ahead of us, and I think that’s still the mentality we have.”
Game 6 was no different.
After overcoming three one-goal deficits, Boston took the lead for the first time in the game with 4:15 left in regulation when Sturm chased down Milan Lucic’s pass in the left wing corner and ripped a hard pass to the front of the net, where Phil Kessel roofed the puck over Price for his second goal of the night.
The euphoria at the sold-out TD Banknorth Garden lasted all of 11 seconds, when Montreal’s Chris Higgins rifled Sergei Kostitsyn’s pass into a wide-open net after a defensive breakdown by the Bruins for his second of the night.
But with the Garden still rocking, Montreal defenseman Roman Hamrlik turned the puck over in his own zone. Sturm took a shot that Price stopped, but he got his own rebound, swept across the crease from right to left and lifted the puck over Price’s frantic dive.
“We battled so hard,” Sturm said. “We showed in the last two games that we can outwork them.”
With the noise level at the Garden nearly deafening, the Bruins were able to keep the Canadiens off the scoreboard.
''They were just hungrier. They bore down on every chance they had,'' Price said after his second straight loss. ''Just need to make sure it is not three in a row.”
The Bruins came out hitting, but Montreal grabbed the early lead on a great individual effort by Higgins, who hadn’t scored in the first five games. Saku Koivu, back after missing nine games with a broken bone in his foot, won a faceoff in the Boston zone. Higgins picked up the loose puck, deked around defenseman Dennis Wideman and rapped a shot through a surprised Tim Thomas.
Kessel tied it 1:54 into the second with a spectacular effort of his own. He was about 30 feet from the net when he pushed the puck through defenseman Francois Bouillon’s legs, went around him to pick it up and whipped a shot past Price.
Kessel, a second-year forward who was benched for Games 2 through 4, has three goals in two games since being re-inserted into the lineup.
“Phil was great,” Sturm said. “We know how he can play. I hope he continues like that.”
The Bruins couldn’t convert on a power play and were burned when Tomas Plekanec came out of the box, took a breakaway pass from Steve Begin and beat Thomas at 7:43.
That set the stage for a wild third period.
Boston tied it 3:13 when Peter Schaefer’s pass was deflected by Montreal defenseman Josh Gorges but trickled through to rookie Vladimir Sobotka, who skated across the crease and took a backhander that caught Price going the wrong way.
That re-energized the Garden crowd, but the Canadiens looked like they might skate off with a series victory when Bouillon’s harmless-looking shot from the left point hit the stick of Boston defenseman Shane Hnidy and went past Thomas at 10:04.
But the Bruins wouldn’t quit, and their persistence was rewarded at 12:13 when another rookie, Milan Lucic, got the shaft of his stick on Aaron Ward’s point shot and bounced it past a helpless Price.
“Sometimes when you’re counted out is the time you rise and shine,” Wideman said.
Carbonneau blamed his own team’s mistakes for the loss.
"We gave it away by giving them breakaways," Carbonneau said. "Now we have to regroup and get ready for Game 7.
“You want to sweep a series in four games. But this is why there's a Game 7 and this is why you play 82 games — to get the home advantage for Game 7.”
Caps edge Flyers to stay alive | Video
The Washington Capitals are starting to get the hang of playoff hockey. They just hope they’re not too late.
The Capitals jumped to an early lead on Saturday with the right mix of muscle and skill, and the Philadelphia Flyers waited too long to respond. The result: Washington’s 3-2 must-win Game 5 victory in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
"There's a big difference from the first three games to the last two," said Caps coach Bruce Boudreau, who, like many of his players, is getting his first taste of the NHL postseason. "I guess this is why they say playoff experience is so important. I never would've thought about it on this scale, never being here."
The Capitals outshot the Flyers 12-4 and outhit them 22-9 in the first period. They took a 2-0 lead early in the second before holding off a determined rally by the Flyers, who outshot Washington 21-6 in the third period.
The victory forced Game 6 in Philadelphia on Monday night.
The pressure is on them now," Washington center Brooks Laich said.
The Flyers will be without forward Mike Knuble for Game 6. Knuble sustained a partial tear of his left hamstring late in the second period when he stumbled to the ice in a moment of indecision over whether to try to block a shot. Knuble had two goals and three assists during the series, including the game-winner score in double overtime of Game 4.
"I just kind of caught my heel and went down awkwardly," Knuble said.
The Caps showed they were going to take the physical initiative early, getting called for two roughing penalties in the first minute.
"I find they're really starting to pick up their physical play," Philadelphia forward Scottie Upshall said. "As far as I'm concerned they're getting in some pretty good shots after the whistle."
They also made the Flyers pay for a pair of first-period penalties that gave Washington a 5-on-3 power play. Nicklas Backstrom gave the Caps a 1-0 lead at 7:31 when he slammed in Alexander Semin’s pass from just outside the crease.
The Caps led 1-0 after the first period — the first time in the series they’ve been ahead after the opening 20 minutes — and quickly doubled their lead 1:25 into the second when Sergei Fedorov beat Martin Biron with a backhander on a feed from Viktor Kozlov, who worked hard to win the puck in the corner.
The Flyers cut the margin to 2-1 at 12:35 after Fedorov's holding penalty gave Philadelphia a 5-on-3 power play. Vaclav Prospal scored his third goal of the series on the final second of the two-man advantage.
The goal energized the Flyers, who had the better of the play over the second half of the game. But with Scott Hartnell in the penalty box for hooking, Semin's power-play goal, a screened wrist shot from the high slot, gave the Capitals a 3-1 lead with 5:27 remaining. Derian Hatcher made it a one-goal game again just 44 seconds later, but the Flyers couldn't get the equalizer.
The Caps stayed alive despite the continuing lack of productivity from Alex Ovechkin, who had an NHL-best 65 goals during the regular season but has just one — the winner in Game 1 — in his first five playoff games. He had six shots on goal in Game 5 after getting just 13 in the first four games combined. "My goals are coming," Ovechkin said. "I don't care if I don't score and we win. If I play one minute in a game and we win the game, it will be a good result."
The Flyers say they won’t be caught short at the start of the game on Monday night.
"They really came at us hard," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "To me, that's a lesson we learned that won't happen again. We've got to come out and we've got to initiate."
Material from wire services and team online media was used in this report.