BOSTON (AP)—The underdog Bruins keep coming back—all the way back to a surprise seventh game against the Canadiens in Montreal.
Boston overcame three one-goal deficits Saturday night and won 5-4 on Marco Sturm’s goal with 2:37 left. Now the Bruins need just one more win to take a series that they trailed 3-1.
“We’ve battled and battled and battled and got ourselves back in this position,” goalie Tim Thomas said. “We still have more work to do.”
The Bruins are 0-20 in series they trailed 3-1. They were given little chance to knock off the Canadiens even before the playoffs started. Boston rallied at the end of the season to earn the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Montreal had the best record and the No. 1 seed in the East.
The Canadiens also were unbeaten in their eight regular-season games against the Bruins.
“People are going to pull out every stat that’s insignificant and it’s what we talked about going into the playoffs,” Boston defenseman Aaron Ward said. “We have no pressure on us right now. We were not expected to be in this situation.”
Neither was Montreal rookie goalie Carey Price.
He had allowed a total of five goals in the first four games, three of which were decided by one goal. Then he lost his touch and gave up four goals in the third period of the next two games—Boston’s 5-1 win in Montreal and Saturday’s victory.
“Our best player has to be our best player,” Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said when asked about Price’s problems.
Sturm scored after Price stopped his first shot but failed to control the rebound. Sturm collected it, skated across the crease from left to right, and a sprawling Price couldn’t get to the other side in time.
“We worked so hard just to try to grind it out in the end and it worked really well,” Sturm said.
So the Bruins, who repeatedly harried the Canadiens in the neutral zone, still have a chance to win a playoff series for the first time in nine years and complete an improbable comeback. The Canadiens, suddenly, are close to extending their postseason problems to just three series victories in 14 seasons.
“They were just hungrier. They bore down on every chance they had,” Price said after his second straight loss. “Just need to make sure it is not three in a row.”
The Bruins took their first lead 4-3 with 4:15 left in the third period on Phil Kessel’s second goal of the game. He also scored in Game 5 after being benched for three games because of defensive deficiencies.
“The way he’s played the last two games has been unreal,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “If he wants to prove me wrong, I can take it.”
The lead lasted just 11 seconds until Christopher Higgins scored his second of the game.
“We obviously should have won that game,” Higgins said, “but we need to come with a little more focus on defensive details in the next game. … Maybe we will be playing with a little more desperation considering the winner takes it.”
Saku Koivu, who missed the last nine games with a broken bone in his left foot, set up the first goal when he won a faceoff. Higgins then got the puck away from defenseman Dennis Wideman and scored at 9:44 of the first period.
Kessel tied it with some nifty stickhandling. About 30 feet from the goal, he nudged the puck between the legs of Francis Bouillon, picked it up on the other side, and tied the game at 1:54 of the second.
Montreal took a 2-1 lead on a breakaway goal by Tomas Plekanec at 7:43 of the second just eight seconds after he left the penalty box.
But Boston’s Vladimir Sobotka tied it 3:13 into the third period.
The Canadiens went ahead again on Bouillon’s shot from the left point that deflected off the stick of Boston defenseman Shane Hnidy and past Thomas at 10:04 of the third period.
And the Bruins came back again to tie it at 3-3 just two minutes later when Milan Lucic redirected Ward’s shot from the right point and into the net.
“The job’s not done,” Lucic said. “There’s 60-plus minutes left against these guys.”
The Canadiens know they must get better.
“It’s going to be up to us to play the type of hockey we have played all year long,” Bouillon said, “and play better defensively.”
Ward returned after missing one game with a knee injury. … In 2004, Julien led Montreal back from a 3-1 series deficit in the first round to beat Boston. … The six goals in the third period were the most in a Bruins playoff game since the same teams combined for that many in 2002. … The Canadiens will play a Game 7 for the 19th time but first after leading 3-1.