MONTREAL - So now the Boston Bruins can head off to Lake Placid and not have to be in search of another Miracle on Ice.
In a series in which the home team has failed to win a game - you see a trend in these playoffs? - the Bruins shook off their disastrous first two games of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal with a 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens at the ear-splitting Bell Centre and avoided falling into an 0-3 hole.
Now down just 2-1 in the series, they are heading off to Lake Placid for the two days, the scene of the 1980 Miracle on Ice, and can contemplate tying up the series Thursday night.
The Bruins need not seek divine intervention especially after Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, who had played like some kind of deity in the first two games in Boston, looked particularly human Monday night. The Bruins jumped on a turnover to open the scoring for the first time in the series just three minutes into the game (David Krejci with his first) and built a 3-0 lead on a couple of questionable plays by Price.
He overplayed a shot by Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara - back in the lineup after missing Game 2 because of a virus and looking less green around the gills - and had Boston’s Nathan Horton chip the puck over him and just over the line to make it 2-0 at 14:38 of the first.
Price, who has been nonchalantly handling pucks all season, then flipped one right into the onrushing Mark Recchi and the puck bounced off the Bruins’ veteran and went right to Bruin Rich Peverley, who fired into the open net to make it 3-0 just two minutes into the second period.
“We’re in a series now. We didn’t expect it to be anything but this,” said Canadiens winger Mike Cammalleri, who assisted on the Canadiens’ goals by Andrei Kostitsyn and Tomas Plekanec, both of which were on the soft side on Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas as the Canadiens made a game of it. “We played well the last two (periods) and did some good things. For the most part, we had the pressure on. We can take some positives out of that.”
The Bruins, who had looked so tight and uncomfortable in Boston, found their skating legs to start Game 3 and the Canadiens didn’t have the room to move the puck around the ice as effectively as they did in the first two games at the TD Garden.
The Canadiens didn’t even look sharp in their morning skate Thursday and heard it from coach Jacques Martin.
“I told the players this morning it’s a good thing the game is not this morning because you’re not ready,” said Martin. “We didn’t compete for the first 30 minutes of the game.”
“I thought we got what we deserved in the first period and then after that came back and played like a focused hockey team,” said Price. “We weren’t expecting to sweep Boston, at all, and we’re still happy where we’re at.”
Thomas saved his best stuff for the closing minutes as the Habs pressed for the tying goal with big stops on Kostitsyn and Montreal’s Scott Gomez.
The Bruins probably don’t need a performance like that of Jim Craig in the USA net in 1980 to win this series against the Habs, but they are probably going to need something just a little better than what Thomas has shown for most of this series.
If the way he played in the closing minutes is any indication, it looks like they might get it.