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Former Hab Michael Ryder scores winner as Boston takes 3-0 series lead @NHLdotcom

MONTREAL - Michael Ryder scored late in the second period to break a 2-2 tie in lifting the Boston Bruins to a 4-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens to take a stranglehold on their NHL Eastern Conference playoff series Monday night.

Boston leads the best-of-seven series 3-0 and can move on to the second round with a win Wednesday in Game 4 at the Bell Centre. Phil Kessel, Shawn Thornton and Chuck Kobasew into an empty net also scored for the Bruins, the top seed in the East.

Boston was outskated by Montreal through the first half of the game before taking over midway through the second period. The Bruins did not appear to miss suspended forward Milan Lucic.

Rookie defenceman Yannick Weber had a goal and an assist and Chris Higgins also scored for the injury-plagued Canadiens, who learned before the game they would be without veterans Alex Tanguay and Mathieu Schneider due to upper body injuries.

Only two teams have ever come back from an 0-3 deficit in playoff history - the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and the 1975 New York Islanders. It is the 10th time Montreal has lost the first three games of a series.

The Bell Centre fans were certainly enthusiastic early on as the Canadiens dominated the opening minutes.

For the first time in the series, Montreal scored first as Higgins broke down the left side on a counterattack and beat Tim Thomas with wrist shot off his glove at 11:52.

But with 1:25 left in the first, Mike Komisarek's clearing attempt was intercepted at the blue-line by Dennis Wideman, whose shot toward the net went in off Kessel for his third of the series.

Two players scored their first NHL playoff goals early in the second frame, as Byron Bitz fought off Weber to feed Thornton in front for his first in 25 career post-season games at 3:36.

Less than two minutes later, Glen Metropolit won a draw off Marc Savard back to Weber, who scored in only his second playoff game and fifth career NHL contest.

After that goal, the Bruins took over and a series of three shots ended in Ryder's second of the series to give Boston the lead at 17:21. Ryder left Montreal to sign as a free agent with Boston last summer.

The Canadiens forechecked hard in the third period, but couldn't penetrate the Boston defence. Kobasew outraced Saku Koivu to a puck to score into the empty net with 37 seconds left to play.

Notes: Forward Tanguay and defenceman Schneider were surprise absentees for the Canadiens with upper body injuries. Both missed games in the final week of the regular season but played in the opening two playoff games. Since they were already missing top defenceman Andrei Markov, it may be why the scoreboard flashed a quote before the game from Voltaire: "Faith is believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe." . . . Sergei Kostitsyn and Patrice Brisebois also sat out. Gregory Stewart played his first NHL playoff game and Ryan O'Byrne also got into the lineup. . . Lucic sat out his one-game suspension for cross-checking Maxim Lapierre in Game 2 and Bitz, in his NHL post-season debut, took his spot in the line-up.

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