GAME: Montreal Canadiens at Boston Bruins.
PLAYOFF SERIES: Eastern Conference quarterfinal; Bruins lead 1-0.
TIME: Friday, 7 p.m. EDT.
The Boston Bruins acquired defenseman Sergei Gonchar in March in a bid to
add scoring punch to their power play.
He did just that in leading them to a victory in Game 1 of their
quarterfinal series with the Montreal Canadiens.
Gonchar and the second-seeded Bruins look to take a 2-0 series lead over the
seventh-seeded Canadiens when the teams meet at the FleetCenter.
The Bruins dealt defenseman Shaone Morrisonn and first- and second-round
draft picks in 2004 to Washington for the 29-year-old Gonchar on March 3.
Boston's power play was ranked 14th in the NHL at the time, and Gonchar
didn't do much to improve it over the last month of the season.
The Bruins had the least productive power play among the eight Eastern
Conference playoff teams (16.0 percent) in the regular season, but scored on
two of their six opportunities in a 3-0 win in Game 1 on Wednesday.
Boston came out strong and outshot Montreal 23-9 in the first period, which
ended with the Bruins ahead 2-0 after a power-play goal by Gonchar and a goal
by Michael Nylander. Boston obtained Nylander from Washington one day after
trading for Gonchar.
Mike Knuble made it 3-0 on Wednesday with a power-play goal at 18:24 of the
second period when he tipped Patrice Bergeron's shot past Montreal goalie Jose
"The power plays were the difference," Knuble said.
Boston also got a lift from rookie goaltender Andrew Raycroft, and the
return of captain Joe Thornton to the lineup. Raycroft made 31 saves in his
playoff debut and Thornton came back after missing the last two regular-season
games with an upper body injury.
"It responded pretty good," said Thornton, who played just 14 minutes, 53
seconds. "It's going to be a big day (Thursday) to see how it reacts."
Raycroft, 23, had a 2.05 goals-against average and three shutouts during his
first season as Boston's starter.
"You're going to have some butterflies in the playoffs regardless of a
player's experience," Raycroft said. "You can only get so nervous and I was
pretty close to where I like to be. It keeps you focused."
Montreal has won 22 of the previous 29 playoff series against Boston, but
Canadiens coach Claude Julien said his team wouldn't be around too long if it
kept playing like it did in Game 1.
"We need to be more disciplined," Julien said. "Our thinking caps were
not on as well as they should have been. When we are not capable of making two
passes in a row, we are in for a tough night."
Theodore faced 39 shots behind a sometimes porous defense. Two years ago, he
was outstanding when eighth-seeded Montreal eliminated top-seeded Boston in the
"Plain and simple," Montreal defenseman Sheldon Souray said. "We didn't
The series moves to Montreal for Games 3 and 4 on Sunday and Tuesday.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Canadiens - 93 points; 7th seed. Bruins - 104 points; 2nd
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Canadiens - Mike Ribeiro, 4 PIM. Bruins - Gonchar,
Nylander and Knuble, 1 goal; Sergei Samsonov, 2 assists; Gonchar, Nylander and
Samsonov, 2 points; Martin Lapointe, 4 PIM.
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Canadiens - Power play: 0.0 percent (0 for 5).
Penalty killing: 66.7 percent (4 for 6). Bruins - Power play: 33.3 percent (2
for 6). Penalty killing: 100 percent (5 for 5).
GOALTENDERS: Canadiens - Theodore (0-1, 3.00 GAA); Mathieu Garon (no
appearances). Bruins - Raycroft (1-0, 1 SO, 0.00); Felix Potvin (no
REGULAR SEASON SERIES: Bruins, 3-0-1-2. Four of the six games went to
overtime, with Boston winning once and Montreal posting both of its victories
in the extra period. Theodore was 2-2-1 with a .952 save percentage in the
series and Raycroft was just as good, going 2-1-1 with a .946 save percentage.