BOSTON — The Bruins have their swagger back.
Boston defeated the Montreal Canadiens in stunning fashion on Saturday afternoon, as the B’s rallied from a two-goal deficit with a four-goal third period on the way to a 5-2 win to even their second-round Stanley Cup playoffs series at one game apiece.
However, the Bruins looked dead after 40-plus minutes on Saturday. The game was playing out just the way the Canadiens want this series to go. The Bruins were rattled and were letting their emotions get the best of them. In turn, the Habs were awarded power plays (six on the afternoon) and they took advantage. All of that led to frustration on Boston’s part, which translated into sloppy, discombobulated play.
The series looked like it would be heading to Montreal with the Habs holding a two-game lead. The frustration looked to be taking its toll at the end of the second period when the Bruins were assessed a bench minor for unsportsmanlike after a string of calls went against the home team.
“The referee, I kind of told him that I didn’t agree with his calls,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said after the game.
Things went from bad to worse in the third. Thomas Vanek tipped home his second power-play goal of the game at the 6:30 mark of the third period to put Montreal ahead 3-1. With the way Habs goalie Carey Price was playing, that lead certainly felt bigger. The B’s looked dead.
That wasn’t the case, according to Julien.
“These guys have been through a lot,” Julien said. “And even after they scored and made it 3-1, all I could hear guys saying was, ‘Hey, there’s lot of hockey left, let’s get that next goal here, let’s get going,’ and it was all about encouraging each other to be better.”
They needed to get that first goal, though. That came midway through the period. Brad Marchand, who was in the middle of a dreadful game, skated into the zone and left the puck for defenseman Dougie Hamilton. He fired a shot — just the Bruins’ second of the period — from the top of the slot. The puck found the back of the net, and awoke the sleepy TD Garden crowd.
“I guess (there’s) a little bit of a relief to get one by Price,” Hamilton said. “I think when that happens we get some more energy, the crowd’s in it more, and we start I guess coming at them. And I don’t know if they’re panicking or we just turn it up, but it’s fun when we get in that position.”
The Hamilton goal sparked the crowd and the club. Patrice Bergeron would get the game-tying goal shortly thereafter, and Reilly Smith scored the eventual game-winner 2:11 after Bergeron evened the score. Just like that, the Bruins had gone from left for dead to evening the series with a whole ton of momentum heading into Tuesday’s Game 3 in Montreal.
The Bruins thrive when facing adversity as well as any team in the league. It’s not surprising that they’ve already erased two-goal deficits in three of their seven playoff games so far. It’s in these situations that having veterans who have been around the block and excelled in just about every situation, really pays off for a team.
“It just speaks a lot about the veterans on this bench and in this room and there isn’t a situation that we haven’t faced before,” defenseman Torey Krug said.
As goalie Tuukka Rask said, the Bruins rarely make it easy for themselves. But as they showed again Saturday, they can never be counted out of a game, and there’s something to be said for that, too. That’s a huge reason they’re heading to Montreal with the series tied.
“I felt, a lot of crap that we put up with today, was pretty indicative of what our team’s all about,” Julien said. “It just shows that if you focus on the things you need to focus on, there’s a pretty good team that can accomplish a lot.”
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