Habs pay the price

AL STRACHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 1:39 PM ET


 It wouldn't be the playoffs without an officiating controversy.

 The Boston Bruins now have a 3-1 lead in their playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens, thanks to last night's 4-3 double-overtime victory in Montreal.

 But the Canadiens don't feel that the result was deserved.

 Here's the scene.

 It's almost midway through the second overtime period and the Canadiens have had the only power play in the extra time.

 Alex Kovalev is carrying the puck through the neutral zone, not facing a lot of pressure, when Travis Green slashes him across the right wrist.

 Kovalev lost his glove and the puck, then looking at his injured hand, paid no attention to where he was going. In fact, he was busy running into Sheldon Souray, the only other Canadien between the puck and the Montreal goal.

 Boston's Glen Murray swooped on the puck for the breakaway, went in on Jose Theodore and scored at 29:27 of overtime.

 "It happened so fast," Theodore said. "We had the puck, then all of a sudden they ran into each other and it was a breakaway.

 "I tried to cover the bottom of the net and it went over my pad."

 The Habs felt a penalty should have been called on the play.

 "It was a two-handed slash," said Canadiens defenceman Patrice Brisebois. "You're supposed to call that kind of stuff.

 "It's a tough call because in overtime, the referees don't want to be part of a win or loss. But it's too bad because we deserved that game."

 "I thought there was supposed to be some sort of rules in hockey," Kovalev said.

 "There has to be some rules they have to follow. I know it's not going to be easy and it's not going to be pretty but ... "

 Kovalev said he wasn't looking at Souray.

 "I just felt my hand go numb," he said. "I'm not here to cry about it. We outplayed them. We were all over them. It should have been our game. They didn't get lucky. They got help."

 But it must also be said that the Canadiens had plenty of opportunities to win the game.

 For starters, they would have done so had they been able to hold on to a 3-1 second-period lead. They opened the scoring on a goal by -- of all people -- Mike Ribeiro.

 For two days, ever since Ribeiro caused a stoppage late in Game 3 on what the Bruins said was a fake injury, the Bruins and their fans have been vilifying Ribeiro.

 But when Michael Ryder unloaded a routine shot towards the net, there was Ribeiro, standing in front to deflect it past Boston goaltender Andrew Raycroft.

 Mikael Nylander got that one back, but with only seconds left in the period, Raycroft made a rare mistake.

 He should have caught Jim Dowd's shot, but he dropped it in front of the crease and Kovalev put it in the net.

 The Canadiens pushed their lead to 3-1 early in the second period on Ribeiro's second goal, and the outcome no longer seemed to be in doubt.

 But Jiri Slegr's shot from the point made it 3-2 and then, with 31 seconds left in the game and Raycroft pulled, Mike Knuble beat Theodore with a backhander.

 Seconds earlier, the Canadiens appeared to be about to score into the empty net but the play was offside, a call that Montreal coach Claude Julien felt was wrong.

 It was just one of those night that happens every season -- or perhaps even every series -- when the officiating took centre stage over a great game.


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