BOSTON (AP)—The Boston Bruins didn’t just take a lead over the Montreal Canadians for the first time all season.
They held the lead at the end of the game.
Marc Savard came off the bench on a delayed penalty to score with 9:25 gone in overtime Sunday night and the Boston Bruins beat the Montreal Canadiens for the first time this season, winning 2-1 in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series.
“We got the monkey off our back after 13 losses,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien, who wasn’t with the team when Montreal started its 13-game winning streak against Boston more than a year ago. “The game was a lot like last night’s, but this time Lady Luck was smiling upon us.”
Tim Thomas made 27 saves for Boston, stopping several shots at close range in overtime. Carey Price stopped 29 shots for the Canadiens, who beat the Bruins in their last three tries last season, all eight in the regular season and the first two of their best-of-seven series.
“I knew at one point they were going to beat us,” Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said. “We had a couple of really good chances in overtime, but Thomas played big.”
Montreal continued its dominance in the overtime, testing Thomas continually before the Bruins caught a break when Bryan Smolinski was signaled for a penalty in Montreal’s zone. As Thomas headed for the bench, Peter Schaefer controlled the puck and got it to Dennis Wideman.
Savard came off the bench, and Wideman found him in the middle for the open backhander.
“I came on as the extra skater,” said Savard, who also assisted on Boston’s other goal. “When Wideman picked it off, I yelled at the top of my lungs and luckily he saw me.”
The Bruins have made the playoffs just three times since 1999, losing in the first round all three times. Two of those losses were to the Canadiens, their longtime Original Six rivals.
This year, the domination was even more complete: In losing all eight regular-season matchups, Boston didn’t have the lead in a single game—for a single second. The streak continued when the Bruins managed just 18 shots in a 4-1 loss in Game 1.
Boston scored two third-period goals Saturday night to force overtime in Game 2. They lasted just 2:30 thanks to a controversial tripping penalty that led to Alex Kovalev’s power-play goal, but at least they showed they wouldn’t roll over against the top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference.
On Sunday, the Bruins did even more than that.
“We tried to build on an excellent game (Saturday) night,” Thomas said. “We have a lot of guys laying it on the line.”
In the first NHL playoff game in Boston since 2004, the Bruins took their first lead against Montreal this season 6 1/2 minutes in when Savard dug the puck out from the boards and passed it in front to Milan Lucic for some nice stickhandling and a shot past Price.
The Bruins showed some fight when Shane Hnidy pushed back against Guillaume Latendresse between the first and second periods. The brawl was repeated in the stands between the Boston fans and the large contingent that made the five-hour trip from Montreal to outshout the locals.
The Canadiens tied it at 4:26 of the second when Tom Kostopoulos, despite being wrestled to the ice in the slot, swept the puck past Thomas to make it 1-1.
Total time the Bruins have led the Canadiens in 2007-08: 17 minutes, 56 seconds. But they have two days to enjoy it before Game 4 in Boston on Tuesday.
Bruins F Phil Kessel was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. … Wideman was back in the lineup in place of Andrew Alberts, who played Game 2. … It was the 157th game in 31 playoff series between the two clubs, most in the NHL. … The Bruins, who were 14th among the 16 playoff teams in scoring during the regular season, have managed only five goals in the first three games of the postseason.