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Habs hit the road after home-ice edge disappears

by John Kreiser
The Montreal Canadiens are hoping the "road-ice advantage" will last at least one more night.

The road team has won all four games this far in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series between the Canadiens and Boston Bruins. The Habs came home thinking sweep after winning Games 1 and 2 in Boston; they're leaving with the series tied after the Bruins' 5-4 overtime win on Thursday night.

Game 5 is Saturday night at TD Garden in Boston, where the Canadiens won 2-0 and 3-1.

"Away-ice advantage? Is there such a thing?" Canadiens defenseman Hal Gill wondered.

Thursday was a tale of two games, with the Canadiens winning the first half and the Bruins dominating the final 30 minutes of regulation before winning in OT.

"We were excellent in the first 30 minutes but we made too many turnovers and that cost us," said Canadiens coach Jacques Martin, who saw his team surrender leads of 1-0, 3-1 and 4-3 before former Canadien Michael Ryder got the winner 1:59 into overtime. "That's what the playoffs are all about. Momentum swings even during the game. We had the momentum with our play in the first half of the game and they took it away with their play in the second half."

The Bruins outshot Montreal 23-9 after the Canadiens grabbed their 3-1 lead less than eight minutes into the second period. Forward Michael Cammalleri said he didn't feel the Canadiens placed too much emphasis on defense after grabbing the two-goal lead.

"I don't think we stopped playing," forward Michael Cammalleri said. "We had some great chances to finish it. We had a really good power play, we had a good chance in overtime first."

Before the series, the Canadiens and their fans probably would have been happy with the scenario Montreal faces now – a split of the first four games.

"Before the series, if we would've said that we'd be tied 2-2 after four games, that's something a lot of people wouldn't have thought we'd be able to do," Martin said. "Now it's a best-of-three so we'll have to regroup and be prepared to be at our best on Saturday."

The Canadiens know they lost a chance to put a stranglehold on their biggest playoff rival, but they're still optimistic about beating Boston for the 25th time in their 33 postseason series.

"That was a huge game, obviously. Being up 3-1 is different than being tied 2-2 going to Boston," admitted center Tomas Plekanec. "We showed a lot of character during the season, we have a good team here and we're going to keep our heads up. For sure after winning the first two in Boston we would've liked to come back and win at least one at home, but at the same time, the series is still 2-2. Now we just have to go win a third one over there."

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