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Bruins rookie Fraser scores OT winner in Montreal

The SportsXchange

MONTREAL -- One day earlier, Boston Bruins winger Matt Fraser was in Providence with no idea of what fate had in store for him.

"I was sitting at Chipotle eating lunch and I wondered what I was going to do for the day," Fraser said late Thursday night at Bell Centre, noting that his meal included a double chicken burrito with guacamole and no cheese. "I got frozen yogurt after, too. Maybe that's what I need to keep doing the day before a game.

"Eat frozen yogurt."

Maybe that's not a bad idea.

Playing in his first NHL playoff game, Fraser scored 1:19 into overtime to give the Bruins a 1-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens, evening their best-of-seven Atlantic Division final at 2-2.

Game 4 is set for Saturday in Boston.

Fraser, a 23-year old rookie who scored two goals in 14 regular season games with Boston during the regular season, capitalized on a fortuitous bounce to end a goaltending dual between Montreal's Carey Price and the Bruins' Tuukka Rask.

A shot by Boston defenseman Johnny Boychuk bounced off the end glass and over the Montreal net, where Bruins center Carl Soderberg took one whack then another, finally nudging it past defenseman Mike Weaver and sending it off Price's pad to where Fraser was positioned.

"It was bouncing around and I was just swatting as hard as I could, hoping it would hit something," said Fraser. "He's such a good goalie, he doesn't give out a lot of rebounds. I might have got lucky there but the puck wound up in the back of the net.

"It's exciting, it's fun to be a part of this."

Rask made 33 saves for the shutout, all in regulation time. The Bruins had 35 shots on Price, including three in the extra session.

"It was a hard-nosed game played by two teams well prepared," said Canadiens coach Michel Therrien. "Both goalies were phenomenal tonight. We lost a battle in front of the net, obviously, on the winning goal, but I'm pleased with our team effort. The guys battled hard, and when you get to the overtime it could go both ways. Both teams played really hard tonight."

Both sides threatened during a third period penalty to Montreal defenseman Alexei Emelin, who was whistled for boarding after ramming Bruins center David Krejci's head into the end boards.

First, Boston winger Reilly Smith rung a wrist shot off the post to Price's right. Moments later, Canadiens winger Brian Gionta found himself alone in front of Rask, who stopped both the first attempt and Gionta's hack at the rebound.

After taking just one penalty each in Game 3, the Canadiens and Bruins were again on their best behavior through 40 minutes. The Bruins couldn't do much during a second period holding penalty to Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban, who committed the team's only foul Tuesday. Montreal's power play was just as ineffective while Boston defenseman Matt Bartkowski served two for holding later in the frame.

With nothing working in the offensive zone for either team, players started to think they were either in for a long night or the game was going to be decided by a lucky bounce.

Those who figured the latter turned out to be right.

"Through the third period it was pretty tight, pretty tight checking," said Bruins winger Jarome Iginla. "Guys were jumping in front of a lot of shots, and all that stuff. Fortunately we got that bounce and it's a big one. Now we want to go home and have home ice again."

While Rask was outstanding, Bruins coach Claude Julien said the entire team was better defensively.

"We didn't give up three breakaways. That helped," said Julien, referring to the fact the Canadiens scored on two in-alone chances during Tuesday's 4-2 victory.

Montreal did have one breakaway in the second, however, but Rask stoned Gionta, who tried to beat him with a high, short-side backhand.

For the Canadiens, it was a missed opportunity, much like their inability to put the Bruins down 3-1 in the series.

"Well after tonight, right now, really, there's nothing you can do about it," said Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges of the fact his team could have had Boston down to its last life. "There's no sense sitting here feeling sorry for ourselves. We knew this was going to be a long series. That's a good team we're playing over there. Now it's best-of-three. When we come to work tomorrow we get ourselves prepared, we get our mindset right, and we get ourselves ready to come into Boston for Game 5 and we worry about that one game. That's all that matters to us."

NOTES: Boston dressed D Matt Bartkowski and put D Andrej Meszaros in the press box. It was the fifth playoff game this spring for Bartkowski, who had no goals, 18 assists and a plus-22 rating in 64 regular season games. ... Montreal made no roster changes for Game 4. ... Canadiens D P.K. Subban entered the night with a six-game point scoring streak, becoming the first Montreal blue liner to collect points in a half dozen consecutive games since Larry Robinson did so in 1985. Subban had multiple points in five of the six games.
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