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Power play helps Bruins take 3-2 series lead

by Matt Kalman

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins power play was a vital weapon in their five-game series victory against the Detroit Red Wings in the Eastern Conference First Round. But it hadn't contributed anything in a second-round series against the Montreal Canadiens.

Until Saturday.

Boston's power play, which had been 0-for-10 in the series, got goals from Reilly Smith and Jarome Iginla 32 seconds apart early in the second period, helping the Bruins to a 4-2 victory in Game 5 at TD Garden.

Boston leads the best-of-7 series 3-2 and can advance to the Eastern Conference Final for the second year in a row by winning Game 6 on Monday at Bell Centre (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

The power-play struggles against the Canadiens came after the Bruins went 6-for-16 in five-game blitz of the Red Wings.

"In the first series it seemed like everything was going in, so we maybe took it for granted maybe a little bit. But it was good to get back to it tonight," Smith said. "I think we stuck to it, we tried to slow things down, get our pace back. And their penalty kill was outworking us for the first period, so it was good to get back and take control."

The line of Carl Soderberg, Loui Eriksson and Matt Fraser combined for six points. Soderberg, who had gone without a goal through nine games in this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs, had one goal and two assists. Eriksson, who hadn't scored in five games, had a goal and an assist. Fraser, whose overtime winner in Game 4 evened the series, had one assist.

"He's a goal-scorer for sure," Soderberg said of Fraser. "And we haven't scored. Last game he came in and scored for us. So he got us going too, and today it was me and Loui's turn."

Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask had his shutout streak snapped at 121:58 when he allowed a goal to Brendan Gallagher late in the second period. Rask also allowed a power-play goal to P.K. Subban late in the third and finished with 29 saves. The Bruins led for 46:40 of Game 4 after leading for 11:39 through the first four games.

Montreal, which hadn't trailed after two periods in this year's playoffs, got 26 saves from Carey Price.

"We couldn't really establish much right from the get go. We were chasing the puck, we didn't transition very well," Montreal captain Brian Gionta said. "They brought the play to us for most of the game."

Soderberg opened the scoring at 13:20 of the first period. He won a draw at the right dot in the offensive zone with a little help from Fraser, who pounced on the loose puck and passed it to the right point for defenseman Matt Bartkowski. He slid the puck behind the net, where Eriksson skated out and found Soderberg in the slot for a high shot past Price's blocker.

Boston's power play failed on its first two tries. But Plekanec went off for goaltender interference with 17 seconds left in the first period, and Smith made it 2-0 at 1:04 of the second when he deflected a shot by defenseman Dougie Hamilton past Price with his left skate.

It was the first power-play goal by the Bruins against the Canadiens in a playoff game since April 18, 2009, a stretch that spanned parts of three series and 14 games, and covered 38 power plays.

Plekanec went off again at 1:30, this time for high sticking, and Boston needed all of six seconds to make it 3-0. Defenseman Torey Krug made a backhand pass across the ice from the right corner to the left side of the slot, where Iginla smacked a one-timer past Price for his second goal of the series.

"I think our power play was due," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "After the first period, our power play was just average so we had a little chat and talked about bringing the intensity up there on our power play and winning more battles and making stronger plays. And it gave us obviously those two goals, which were huge for us, but as always and as a normal situation will tell you, you always like to play for the lead, and it was nice for us to have it and be able to hang onto it.

Montreal ended Rask's shutout streak at 14:39 with a power-play goal. Plekanec took a wrist shot into traffic and the puck deflected off Gallagher and went past Rask to make it 3-1.

Eriksson extended the lead to 4-1 at 14:12 of the third period when he won a battle in the slot for the rebound of Fraser's shot and wristed the puck past Price. Subban blasted a power-play one-timer past a screened Rask with 2:29 to play and Price on the bench for an extra attacker.

"They capitalized on a couple opportunities right at the start of the second period, and that was a tough hole to dig out of," Price said. "We're going to stay positive. The series is not over yet. We're going home, and we're going to bring our absolute best."

Subban said after the game that one of the Bruins squirted him with water late in the third period, and a video replay showed that the squirt came from Bruins forward Shawn Thornton, who on Sunday was fined $2,820.52, the maximum permitted under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Subban tried to downplay the incident.

"I was hit [in] my visor twice with water," he said. "Listen, I don't think you guys need to make a big deal out of it. It's one of those irritating things, when you're down 4-2. Listen, they beat us. That's not the reason why we lost today. It's just one of those things; [it] frustrates you even more."

There will be more important things than water squirting on the Bruins' minds in Game 6.

"We expect that we are going to have to play our best game yet," Iginla said. "But we also feel like we want to keep building off what we are doing. Today feels good but that's a part of the playoffs. It's literally as soon as we leave the rink it's done and it's about preparing for that next game and trying to go in there and we know that they are going to try to use their crowd and we are most likely going to need our best game of the series."

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