MONTREAL – Michael Ryder came back to haunt to his old team and put the Boston Bruins back on even terms in their playoff series with the rival Montreal Canadiens.
Ryder’s second goal of the game 1:59 into overtime gave the Bruins a come-from-behind 5-4 victory on Thursday night in the wildest and most entertaining game of what had been a tight-checking series.
The visitors have won every game of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final, which is tied 2-2 going into Game 5 on Saturday in Boston.
”They won two games in our barn and now it’s best-of-three,” said Ryder, who began his career in Montreal under coach Claude Julien, who now coaches the Bruins. ”They’ll come out hard in Boston and we’ll have to be ready.”
A 3-on-1 break saw Rich Peverley shoot wide and Chris Kelly slip the rebound off the end boards to Ryder, who was alone at the side of the net.
Kelly played the game with a face cage from an injury in Game 3 and turned in a three-point game, including the tying goal that forced overtime at 13:42 of the third period and an assist on the game-winner.
The Bruins erased Montreal leads of 1-0, 3-1 and 4-3.
”We did a good job of bouncing back,” said Kelly, a former Ottawa Senator picked up late in the season for playoff depth. ”We put ourselves in some tight spots but we got some key saves and that gave us a fighting chance.”
The Bruins are trying to win for the first time after dropping the opening two games of a best-of-seven series, while Montreal is trying to avoid losing a series after winning the first two games for the third time since 1996.
There was dejection in the Montreal dressing room.
”We came out hard and got the lead and then gave them a chance to come back,” said defenceman Hal Gill. ”It’s something we have to be better at.
”We can’t sit and pout. We have to find out what we’re doing.”
”It was our mistakes and we have to take that out of our game,” said defenceman Jaroslav Spacek, the lone man back when the game winner was scored.
”It will be simpler to play on the road. Maybe at home we tried to do too much.”
It was a tough night for Montreal captain Brian Gionta and linemate Scott Gomez, who were on the ice for four Boston goals.
Rookie P.K. Subban put Montreal ahead with a power-play goal 1:39 into the third period but Ryder slipped a pass to Kelly for the tying goal with 6:18 left to play.
Montreal had a late chance on the power play but couldn’t beat veteran goalie Tim Thomas, who was good when he needed to be in a difficult game for goaltenders.
It was the first overtime of the series.
Michael Cammalleri, who had three points and now has seven in the series, Brent Sopel and Andrei Kostitsyn also scored for Montreal.
Andrew Ference and Patrice Bergeron had the other Boston goals.
The 21,273 at the Bell Centre were even louder than for Game 3 to start the game and the Canadiens dominated the opening period, outshooting Boston 15-8 and grabbing a 1-0 lead.
Thomas made some fine saves, including a beauty on Gionta, but let in a soft one as low-scoring defenceman Sopel’s long shot got under his arm at 8:13.
The Bruins tied it 2:13 into the second when Tomas Kaberle sent Ryder in on the right side, shooting a high blast that eluded Price’s glove.
Montreal had the arena rocking with two goals in a 55-second span as Cammalleri tapped one in after a wild flurry around Thomas and Kostitsyn went to the net to jam in a Tomas Plekanec feed at 7:47.
But Julien called a time out and Boston struck back at 9:59 when Ference followed in a rush to wire a high shot from the high slot.
”They scored two quick goals and in this building they had the momentum,” said Julien. ”I just wanted to slow things down and tell them to relax, there’s half a game left to play.
”It seemed as the game went on we got better and better and found a way to get back in it.”
Ference gave the crowd the middle finger with a gloved hand, which will no doubt draw attention from the league’s disciplinarians. The Boston defenceman apologized later and said his finger got stuck in his glove.
”I know it looks bad but I can assure you that’s not a part of who I am,” he said.
Bergeron tied it at 17:04 when Carey Price failed to cover his post and Brad Marchand slipped it in front for a shot into an open net.
In the first three games, the score had remained 0-0 for a total of only 6:38 due to early goals, and Game 4 marked the first time there were tie scores other than 0-0.
Notes: Jeff Halpern, who missed 11 of the last 15 games with an injury, returned to the lineup. Benoit Pouliot was scratched. . . Sopel matched his goal production from last spring when he had one in 22 games for Chicago. . . Ference got his first playoff goal since 2001 with Pittsburgh. . . Boston’s Chris Kelly played in a face cage due to an injury from Game 3. . . Gionta has never missed a playoff game and his streak is now at 90.