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Ryder returns to haunt Habs

by Shawn P. Roarke
MONTREAL -- Michael Ryder wasn't going to rub any more salt into the wounds he has helped cause the Montreal Canadiens and their fans this season.

Instead of gloating about scoring the game-winning goal in Boston's 4-2 victory at the Bell Centre -- a win that moves the Bruins to within one more of advancing to the second round and puts the proud Canadiens franchise within a game of elimination in its Centennial season -- Ryder took the high road Wednesday night in a relieved visitors' dressing room.

"It was good just to get the goal and get the lead and it proved to be the winner, so it's a good feeling," Ryder said. "Getting the win and going up 3-0 is a huge thing for us right now."

Boston now has a three-game cushion to get the final win it needs, while the Canadiens -- the team that found Ryder excess to its needs in last season's Stanley Cup Playoffs -- are one loss away from seeing their Centennial season end far earlier than anyone here hoped.

So, has Ryder become a villain in this hockey-mad city after Monday night's heroics?

Last season, as a Canadien, Ryder endured one of the worst slumps of his hockey career, scoring just 14 goals after posting back-to-back 30 goal campaigns. In the playoffs, he was only called upon to appear in four of Montreal's 12 games.

Now, he is flying high again with Boston. He had 27 goals in the regular season and he has two in the first three games of this series. He knows he could now be persona non grata in his first NHL city.

"We'll see when we go outside," Ryder told, chuckling. "I kind of forgot about what happened here last year. I still have friends on the other side, but during the playoffs you don't talk that much. I'm just happy to be here and help this team and having fun."

Ryder's laid-back personality and sense of humor keep the room loose and his ability to be a danger man on Boston's second line is one of the main reasons Boston is such a dangerous team in this tournament.

"He's been a big part of our team this year," goalie Tim Thomas said. "He's been a great addition. He's been part of the reason that we are a better team this year. When he is contributing, it takes pressure off everybody else."

Boston coach Claude Julien was always confident Ryder would deliver. Julien coached Ryder with Hull in junior hockey and was his first coach here when Ryder arrived with the Canadiens for the 2003-04 season.

"I'm sure everybody would like to use the word justice," Julien said in response to a question about the fact that Ryder scored such a big goal against his former team. "But that's not for me to say. We're happy that we signed him. He's scored the goals that we expected him to score.

"He played a good game for us and showcased what he can do. Good for him." 
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