Canadiens aren't dead yet

AL STRACHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 2:21 PM ET


 According to the Montreal Canadiens, they've outplayed the Boston Bruins in four of the five post-season games thus far in their series.

 But it's playoff hockey, not figure skating, and there are no points for style, even from the French judges.

 So last night, the Canadiens went out and did what had to be done. They beat the Bruins 5-1, thereby staving off elimination. However, they still trail in the series 3-2.

 It was every man in the breech for the Canadiens who can count to four as well as the rest of us.

 The much-maligned Alex Kovalev got a crucial goal, the Canadiens' second of the night, when he made the most of a pretty pass from Saku Koivu.

 Former Leaf Yanic Perreault got the all-important opening goal.

 The defence corps played well with Brad Komisarek filling in for the injured Stephane Quintal.

 And most of all, goaltender Jose Theodore was back on his game, not only making the dazzling saves when necessary but adroitly handling the puck as well.

 "It started with the goaltending," defenceman Patrice Brisebois said. "He made things easy for the defencemen."

 "When you're on the line like this," Theodore said, "you need your best effort from everybody and that's what we did. We played like it was do or die.

 "We had no choice. We couldn't afford to lose."

 The Boston fans got the night off to a great start. Although Montreal fans had booed the American anthem relentlessly on Sunday, the FleetCenter crowd cheered lustily throughout the Canadian anthem. Then they heartily sang their own anthem.

 ALL DOWNHILL

 But after that, it was all downhill for them.

 Perreault, who hasn't been getting much ice time in the post-season because of his defensive deficiencies, was sent out to win a faceoff and stayed with the rush.

 Just over the blue line, he took a pass from Jason Ward, moved in and fired a beautiful shot into the upper corner on Andrew Raycroft's stick side.

 Right where he aimed?

 "Absolutely," he said with a laugh. "That's where I used to beat Heals (former Leafs goalie Glenn Healy) all the time.

 "I was trying to go high because Raycroft has been really good down low."

 The Canadiens nursed that lead until the second period when Kovalev became the leading goal scorer of the post-season with his fourth.

 Despite the best attempts of the media agitators, Kovalev refused to suggest that there was any sort of vindication in this.

 "I'm not worried about those things," he said. "I don't feel anything.

 "I think the team played great and I'm just putting out the same effort I put out every game."

 As the second period wound down, the Bruins started to show their frustration and Joe Thornton took a double minor.

 The Canadiens didn't apply much pressure, just happy to run the time off the clock.

 But as soon as Thornton came back on the ice, he gave the puck away to Zednik who went in alone and beat Raycroft to seal the victory, even though Glen Murray broke the shutout with 11:37 remaining.

 After that, the Bruins showed a total lack of discipline as Travis Green, Sergei Gonchar and Thornton (again) were penalized in short order.

 The Canadiens, whose power play had looked dismal in the first four games, suddenly came to life with a pair of goals by Koivu and one by Craig Rivet.

 Many had given the Canadiens up for dead. But they're still alive. In fact, Koivu said they played better in Game 4 than they did last night.

 And they intend to play better still in Game 6.


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