Savard shows backbone

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:28 PM ET

BOSTON -- With one flick of his talented wrists, Marc Savard shut up:

- All the critics who claimed his Boston Bruins were nothing more than black-and-gold road kill in the Montreal Canadiens' path to a first-round sweep.

- The thousands of Habs fans shoehorned into the Bruins' home arena who spent the entire evening attempting to turn the TD Banknorth Garden into Bell Centre South.

- And, most importantly, the naysayers who felt that, after 13 consecutive Bruins losses at the hands of the Habs, ANY victory over Montreal just wasn't in the cards.

Having sat out the final few weeks of the regular season with a broken bone in his back courtesy of a cross-check from the Canadiens' Steve Begin March 22, imagine the delicious irony the talented Bruins centre felt at being able to break the collective backs of those same Habs last night.

Just minutes after his dramatic goal at 9:25 of overtime had given the Bruins a 2-1 victory over the Canadiens in Game 3 of this best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final, Savard wore a white construction hat while addressing reporters.

WORK ETHIC HELMET

The plastic lid is awarded by the team after every game to the player who displayed the strongest work ethic and enthusiasm.

And, in the case of Savard last night, the guy who injected new life into a series that very well could have slipped out of Boston's grasp.

Having dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to the Habs 24 hours earlier in Game 2, the Bruins found themselves with their backs against the wall. Already down 2-0 in games in the series, a loss would have all but ended their season.

Now, thanks to Savard's heroics, Boston can tie the series with a victory tomorrow in Game 4 here

"It's the biggest goal of my career," Savard said. "It was such an incredible feeling."

With a delayed penalty about to be called on the Canadiens' Bryan Smolinski, Savard raced off the bench as the sixth attacker and zipped to a spot in the high slot. When teammate Denis Wideman spotted Savard sitting pretty, he hit him with a perfect feed.

The rest is history.

"I could have one-timed it but I knew I had some time," Savard said. "I wanted to make sure I put it where I wanted to."

Savard also had an assist, setting up rookie Milan Lucic for the opening goal at 6:30 of the first period. Believe it or not, it was the first time that the Bruins have held a lead against the Habs all season, a span of 11 games.

"That was huge," Savard, a native of Ottawa, said. "I mean, we are now back in the series, but there is a long way to go. At least now we don't have to listen to all these questions about why we can't get up in a game on them or why we can't beat them.

"We thought we deserved to win Game 2 but that didn't happen."

Savard's goal was the exclamation point on a wildly entertaining game that featured end-to-end rushes, bone-crunching hits and brilliant goaltending from the Bruins' Tim Thomas and the Canadiens' Carey Price.

"We tried not to pay attention to all the talk but when you keep getting asked about never having had a lead against them this year, you are made very aware of it," Thomas said.

Lucic's goal ends the talk. He once scored a hat trick against Price "but that was in the western league," he said with a laugh.

Montreal evened the game at 4:06 of the second period on a goal by checker-turned-sniper Tom Kostopoulos, who banged in a Smolinski rebound.

The goal allowed Kostopoulos to join Sergei Kostitsyn as the Habs' playoff leaders in goals with two apiece.

No matter. On this night, Savard would have the last laugh.


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