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Kovalev's OT goal lifts Canadiens to 3-2 win

by Brian Compton

Alex Kovalev scored a power-play goal 2:30 into overtime to give Montreal a 3-2 win over Boston on Saturday night and a 2-0 lead in their first-round series. It was also the Canadiens' 13th consecutive victory over the Bruins.
WATCH highlights from the Canadiens' win
The Montreal Canadiens picked the right time to finally score a power-play goal. Acting captain Alex Kovalev beat Tim Thomas with the man advantage 2:30 in overtime on Saturday night, as the Habs took a 2-0 series lead with a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins at the Bell Centre. Montreal has now won all 10 meetings with Boston this season and 13 in a row overall.

It was Montreal’s first power-play goal in 13 opportunities in this series, which continues Sunday night at Boston.

"We had more of an opportunity on earlier power plays and I had a better line to shoot with," Kovalev said. "But at the end of the game, I took the shot from the outside and it was a good switch for us."

Boston has lost its last 13 games to Montreal, dating back to 2006-07. But unlike Game 1, when the Canadiens hardly had to break a sweat in a 4-1 victory, the Bruins rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the third period to send the game to overtime. Peter Schaefer beat Carey Price at 3:58 before David Krejci scored during a two-man advantage at 9:34.

"I know we didn't press any panic buttons when they tied the game," said Price, who made 37 saves. "They played really well tonight. They deserved to win just as much as we did, but tonight it went our way."

The Canadiens had several chances to regain the lead late in regulation but couldn’t cash in. Montreal was awarded a four-minute power play when Shawn Thornton was tagged with a double minor for high-sticking with just 2:17 remaining. Thornton’s stick made contact with the face of Montreal’s Tom Kostopoulos and cut the Habs’ forward. Patrice Brisebois nearly won it on the ensuing power play, but his shot hit the goal post just as time expired.

“I’ve got to have better control of my stick, that’s my responsibility,” Thornton admitted. “I was going for the puck, and I hit his blade.”

Montreal finally capitalized after Jeremy Reich was called for tripping just 91 seconds into overtime. Kovalev took a pass from Andrei Markov and ripped a shot from the left circle past Thomas to send the capacity crowd of 21,273 into a frenzy.

''It seems to me I had so many chances today and I couldn't get the puck in, and last game was the same thing, I missed an open net,'' said Kovalev, whose seven shots were a team high. ''I'm glad it went in.''

The Bruins’ penalty killers were finally burned after shutting down the NHL’s best regular-season power play on its first 12 chances.

"You give them that many chances it's eventually going to hurt you," Reich said. "We have to stay out of the penalty box, myself included. We can't be taking penalties all the time. We have to fight our way back into this series."

It was especially tough for Thomas, who helped the Bruins kill off a 33-second two-man advantage at the end of regulation. Thomas also stopped 12 of 13 shots in the second period to help keep the Bruins in the game.

“It was unfortunate for us,” said Thomas, who finished with 28 saves. “Guys were just playing hard. It’s hockey. We’ve done just a great job of killing (penalties), I was just thinking to myself, ‘Just one more, and then we’ll go.’ It didn’t work out.”

Roman Hamrlik broke a scoreless tie with his first goal of the postseason with 1:30 remaining in the first period. After withstanding a strong start by the Bruins, Montreal took a 1-0 lead when Hamrlik beat Thomas on a slap shot from the left circle.

''I think if you look back at the first game they just totally dominated us as far as grit was concerned and along the boards and all those areas that are crucial,'' Bruins coach Claude Julien said. ''We just decided to add some grit in our lineup and they responded well that way.''

Sergei Kostitsyn, who scored less than a minute into Game 1, put the Canadiens up by a pair when he stuffed a rebound past Thomas 1:50 into the second period. But unlike Thursday, when the Bruins couldn’t come back after falling into a 2-0 hole, they rallied in the third period.

“We played so well tonight,” Julien said. “I thought we deserved better, and unfortunately those penalties came back to haunt us. We're a team that hasn't hidden behind anything this year, and we're not going to start now. We'll take the responsibility for our penalties, and we'll move on.''

Kovalev is expecting Sunday’s game to be an even bigger challenge, as the Bruins will look to end this 13-game hex in front of their fans at TD Banknorth Garden.

''This was definitely one of their best games, but it's going to be even harder to play against them in their home building,'' Kovalev said.

Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media was used in this report.

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