Richard Zednik scored midway through the third period and the Canadiens capped a comeback unprecedented in their rich history, beating the Bruins 2-0 Monday night to win the first-round series in seven games.
The Canadiens rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to win for the first time, capturing two of the final three games in Boston. Seventh-seeded Montreal will take on the Eastern Conference’s top team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, in the second round.
Boston, which had never lost a series it led 3-1, also had its six-game winning streak in Game 7s snapped. Montreal has won four of the six Game 7s between the Original Six teams.
Zednik clinched this victory with an empty-net goal with 7.8 seconds remaining. Alex Kovalev, the NHL playoffs goal leader with five, and Saku Koivu assisted on both.
The Canadiens were 0-12 in seven-game series they trailed 3-1. They had gotten as close as 3-3 just one other time, in 1954.
The Bruins were 17-0 when ahead 3-1 but were eliminated with the same shock that ended their 2002 season. Seeded first then, they fell to eighth-seeded Montreal in six games in the first round as goalie Jose Theodore played brilliantly.
Theodore was outstanding again Monday, stopping 32 shots, including 12 in the third period.
And captain Joe Thornton, who suffered an upper body injury with two games left in the regular season, was ineffective—going without a point in the series despite playing all seven games.
For Kovalev, it was a successful turnaround from Game 4 when the Bruins won on Glen Murray’s overtime goal. Kovalev held his hand after being hit on it at his own blue line, skated slowly into his own teammate, Sheldon Souray, and allowed Murray to skate in alone on Theodore.
Raycroft was sharp for most of Game 7, especially in the second period when the more aggressive Canadiens held a 15-9 shots advantage.
But the Bruins showed renewed spark in the third period, constantly attacking and then getting back to stop Montreal’s rare threats.
Finally, Zednik scored after an outstanding play by Kovalev, who skated behind the Bruins net and shot from the goal line to Raycroft’s right. The goalie stopped the puck but it bounced into the slot where the unguarded Zednik scored.
Those were Montreal’s first two shots of the period.
Zednik added his third playoff goal as Boston, desperate to force overtime, pulled Raycroft from the net for an extra skater.
In the second period, the Canadiens frequently swarmed around Raycroft. Late in the period, Kovalev stickhandled around the Bruins in the slot but couldn’t get off a good shot.
One of the Bruins’ few scoring opportunities in the first two periods came with 6:45 gone in the second when Sergei Samsonov took a 20-foot shot from the left that Jose Theodore stopped with his pad. Mike Knuble got two rebound shots after the save but was turned away.
Each team had taken 15 shots at the midpoint of the game and Montreal had a22-20 edge entering the third period.
The last time the Bruins lost a Game 7 was April 25, 1982, against Quebec. … Montreal’s last Game 7 victory was May 1, 1992, when the Canadiens eliminated Hartford. … The Bruins were shut out 11 times this season, ninetimes at home.