Kessel fueled by benching

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:17 AM ET

MONTREAL -- Phil Kessel was (bleepin') frustrated.

Or, in his own words: "I was pissed off."

The source of Kessel's frustration was a three-game banishment to the press box as a healthy scratch courtesy of Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien, who looked to get more grit into the lineup after his team's lopsided 4-1 loss in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference quarter-final against the Montreal Canadiens.

Kessel, the skilled kid who was picked fifth overall in the 2006 entry draft, could only stew as he watched his team score just four goals in the three games they played without him.

Finally, with his team trailing the series 3-1 in games, Julien brought Kessel back into the fold last night in order to bring a semblance of offensive pop into the lineup.

The move paid instant dividends.

With the Habs up 1-0, Kessel drilled in the equalizer past Habs goalie Carey Price at 7:45 of the second period. It was the first of five unanswered goals scored by the visitors en route to a 5-1 victory at the Bell Centre.

Kessel's goal was the first scored by a Bruin on Price in 87 minutes, 45 seconds. To that point, the Bruins had not scored a goal since Marc Savard's overtime winner in Game 3 that gave Boston a 2-1 victory Sunday at the TD Banknorth Garden.

"I don't think (the benching) motivated me," Kessel said. "But it was tough sitting out. It was very disappointing. It was a tough time for me.

"It was just nice to help the team. That's who you play for -- the guys in this room."

Asked if sitting Kessel served as a kick in the butt for the kid, Julien said: "He can better answer that than I can.

"But from a coach's point of view, I would say, yes, he (learned from it). Tonight was one of the best nights he has had in terms of fighting along the boards and battling the puck."

The Habs entered action yesterday having gone 26-0 all-time in Game 5's when leading a playoff series in games 3-1.

So much for that unblemished record.

Now, heading into Game 6 tomorrow, the questions begin.

Will the Habs dress captain Saku Koivu, who has skated two consecutive days after receiving medical clearance for his healing left foot?

Will Bruins defenceman Aaron Ward, who missed last night's game with a knee injury, be able to suit up?

Stay tuned.


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