MONTREAL – Mental toughness has helped the Bruins find their stride in a playoff series against the Canadiens, and in the process they’ve shaken off a few post-season scoring droughts.
Andrew Ference is a prime example. The 13-year veteran of the NHL scored his first playoff goal since 2001 in Boston’s 5-4 overtime victory in Montreal Thursday night.
“Of course I was excited, my last one was 10 years ago so it’s extremely exciting to score in the playoffs,” said Ference.
Defenceman Tomas Kaberle also picked up his first point of the series, assisting on Michael Ryder’s first goal of the evening. It was Kaberle’s first playoff point since 2004.
The Bruins’ late rally tied the first-round playoff series 2-2, and underscored the team’s tenacity.
“You know we’ve come back a few times during the regular season but this is the playoffs,” said Boston goaltender Tim Thomas who stopped 34 shots in the win. “It’s a whole new ball game and it’s great that we did it with playoff pressure, it was fun to be a part of.”
The Bruins found some inspiration in the Western Conference. Having watched the San Jose Sharks overcome a four-goal deficit to beat the Los Angeles Kings 6-5 in overtime Tuesday night, Boston was confident that they could do the same.
“That’s something that we talked about, that game in Los Angeles, it was huge for them (the Sharks) and we knew that we had it in us to do it too,” said Patrice Bergeron, who had a goal and an assist Thursday. “So we looked at that and stayed with our game.”
Michael Ryder, who scored twice Thursday, including the winner, also earned his first points of the series.
“You always get a little frustrated when you don’t score and you’re getting a lot of opportunities,” said Ryder. “It’s definitely a confidence boost and hopefully our line can generate and do whatever we can to help the team win.”
Late season acquisition Chris Kelly had a big impact as well, adding a goal and two assists. He scored the game tying goal and set up the overtime winner.
“I think as a line we’ve had some opportunities to score and some nights it just doesn’t come for whatever reason,” said Kelly. “Tonight it was bittersweet and we just seem to put it all together.”
The series resumes Saturday night at Boston’s TD Garden.
“You know, we know that they aren’t going to quit,” said Thomas. “It’s about making sure we’re ready for the next one.”