Bad call burns Bruins

MIKE ZEISBERGER

, Last Updated: 11:34 AM ET

MONTREAL -- Jeremy Reich threw his hands in frustration.

Claude Julien shook his head in disgust.

All in all, the entire Boston Bruins team could not believe what they felt was a cheesy tripping penalty handed out to Reich early into overtime last night, a call that led to Alexei Kovalev's power play winner that gave the hosts a 3-2 win in front of a delirious throng at the Bell Centre.

Kovalev's goal, just 2:30 into the extra frame, allowed the Canadiens to take a 2-0 lead in games to Boston for Game 3 tonight at the TD Banknorth Garden.

The Bruins must feel they are snakebit against the Habs, who have now beaten Boston 13 consecutive times.

While Kovalev got credit for the deciding goal, rookie goalie Carey Price deservedly was the first star, stopping 37 Boston shots and turning in a performance reminiscent of Hall of Famers Ken Dryden and Patrick Roy.

The lasting image of Dryden will always be of his 6-foot-4 frame leaning on his goal stick whenever there was a stop in play.

Roy will be remembered in these parts for winking at the Los Angeles Kings' Tomas Sandstrom after making a hot-dog save during the 1993 Stanley Cup final.

Price has yet to have "his moment" like those two aforementioned Habs greats. But he certainly is on his way.

Attempting to follow in the footsteps of Dryden and Roy, Price's bid to become yet another rookie Montreal Canadiens goalie to lead the fabled bleu blanc et rouge to a Stanley Cup is still 14 victories shy of that goal.

What the first-year Canadiens goalie did prove last night, however, is that he can be the difference maker under the piercing spotlight that is the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Over the past several weeks, Price has been asked time and time again about the fact that Dryden backstopped the Canadiens to a Cup as a rookie in 1971, a feat duplicated by Roy in 1986.

Showing the calm cool and collected demeanour that he plays with on the ice, Price calmly has answered every question fired at him in the dressing room.

Just like he is answering any lingering questions out on the ice about his ability to carry the Habs all the way to their 25th Cup.

At least the frustrated Bruins will take the ice in front of the home crowd at the TD Banknorth Garden tonight knowing they turned in a much better effort than the stinker they exhibited in Game 1.

The recouping Bruins got off to a better start last night.

Then again, it could not realistically have been any worse than it was in the opener Thursday night, a game in which the visitors were outshot 6-0 and outscored 2-0 after just 122 seconds of play.

The Habs coasted to a victory in that game, leaving this entire hockey-crazed city feeling as if this first round series would be a cakewalk for the bleu blanc et rouge.

But the Bruins obviously were not buying into that propaganda, carrying the play for much of the opening 20 minutes in Game 2.

Despite outshooting 12-8 in the first period, however, the visitors found themselves down 1-0 courtesy of Roman Hamrlik, whose long-range blast from inside the blue line beat Tim Thomas with just 90 seconds left in the period.

Instead of simply throwing in the towel, the Bruins fought back. Third period goals by Peter Schaefer and David Krejci brought the Bruins even at 2-2, setting the stage for a frantic finish.

Cue the controversial call, one that will be talked about by Bruins fans for years should Boston lose this series.


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