The Boston Bruins are glad they will be able to enjoy the next few days in Lake Placid without having to contemplate conjuring up a hockey miracle of their own.
David Krejci and Nathan Horton scored first-period goals to lead Boston to a 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night as the Bruins won on the road after dropping the first two games of their first-round series at home.
Tim Thomas stopped 34 shots for Boston and Rich Peverley scored in the second. Chris Kelly scored into an empty net with 25.6 seconds remaining.
With two days off before Game 4 on Thursday night, the Bruins will practice Tuesday and Wednesday at the site of the U.S. hockey team’s “Miracle on Ice” in the 1980 Olympics.
“I think it’s a good idea to just kind of get away, relax, a little bit more quiet environment, and for myself personally I’ll be happy to look around and see a lot of the things from the 1980 Olympics,” said Thomas, a part of the U.S. team that won silver at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Thomas turned aside 14 of 15 shots in the third to hold off Montreal’s comeback bid.
“Tim has given us a chance to win all year and he came up with another big performance tonight,” said Patrice Bergeron, who had a pair of assists. “It’s the playoffs and we all want to win and we know they’re not going to stop. Even though they were down three goals, they kept going and we expected that, and we know Thursday is going to be a tough game again.”
Elsewhere in the NHL, it was: Philadelphia 4 Buffalo 2; Pittsburgh 3 Tampa Bay 2; and Detroit 4 Phoenix 2.
At Montreal, Andrei Kostitsyn, who also missed Game 2, scored the Canadiens’ first goal with Boston holding a 3-0 lead 7:03 into the middle period. Tomas Plekanec drew Montreal within one early in the third.
Coming into the Bell Centre facing a 2-0 series deficit with a streak of six straight playoff losses, it looked as though Boston might need a miracle of its own to solve Canadiens goalie Carey Price.
“I think it was important for us to have a good start, and we did that,” coach Claude Julien said. “We scored some early goals, which helped the confidence. I thought the guys were ready to play tonight and weren’t as tense as they were the first two games at home and that really helped as well, gave us more energy.”
Zdeno Chara’s return gave the Bruins’ lineup a big boost, despite an early stumble. The Boston captain missed Saturday night’s 3-2 loss to Montreal after he was hospitalized overnight for dehydration.
“I wanted to play (Saturday), but obviously I knew it wouldn’t be a smart decision for the team,” said Chara, who played his first game at the Bell Centre since his devastating hit on Max Pacioretty that left the Montreal forward with a concussion and a cracked vertebra.
Price made 21 saves after stopping 65 of 66 in the Canadiens’ two wins at the TD Bank Garden and posting a shutout in Thursday’s series opening 2-0 win.
“The victory definitely is on the other side, but at the end of the day, the difference was the first period, the first 10 minutes of the game,” Montreal captain Brian Gionta said. “We got scored on early and then we got away from our game plan.”
Chara saw his customary boos turn to cheers when the Bruins were called for too many men 1:08 in after the 6-foot-9 Boston captain jumped on the ice with fellow defenceman Dennis Seidenberg.
The sold-out crowd of 21,273 was silenced moments later when Seidenberg drew an assist as Krejci beat Price for his first goal at 3:08.
Chara helped set up Horton’s goal at 14:38 as the Bruins stretched their first lead of the series to 2-0.
After playing virtually error-free hockey through the first two games in Boston, the Canadiens lost their composure in the first period and that carried over into the second.
Price’s clearing pass struck Bruins winger Mark Recchi and bounded to Peverley, who fired the puck into Montreal’s unguarded net 2:02 into the middle period to make it 3-0.
The Canadiens began their comeback bid with Kostitsyn’s first goal at 7:03. Michael Cammalleri left a drop pass for Kostitsyn, who burst around Chara and beat Thomas between the pads with a backhand along the ice.
Cammalleri got his second straight assist as Plekanec drew Montreal within 3-2 4:03 into the third. The Czech centre spun around and his shot beat Thomas through the legs again with a shot from the right corner.
“We didn’t have the start we wanted,” defenceman Hal Gill said. “I think maybe we were a little bit too comfortable and they’re a good team and they took advantage of that, but we turned it around and we came and got to playing the way we can. We just have to play the whole game like that.”
At Buffalo, N.Y., Brian Boucher stopped 35 shots as Philadelphia’s new starting goalie in helping Philadelphia grab a first-round playoff series lead with a win over the Sabres.
At Tampa, Fla., Tyler Kennedy put Pittsburgh ahead early in the third period and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 25 shots, helping the Penguins hold off the Tampa Bay Lightning.
At Glendale, Ariz., Ruslan Salei and Drew Miller had goals 44 seconds apart to open the game, and Detroit scored early in each period to push Phoenix to the brink of elimination.