Losing the first two games of a best-of-seven playoff series is not usually a recipe for success, especially when those setbacks are on your home ice. However, the Boston Bruins may be an exception.
The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Bruins 3-1 and 4-2 in the first two games of this Eastern Conference quarterfinal series to take a commanding 2-0 lead. But the Bruins have rallied to capture three straight games, with the last two going into overtime.
As a result, the Bruins can eliminate the Canadiens and advance to the semifinals with a victory Tuesday night at Montreal’s Bell Centre. The puck drops at 4 p.m. (PT).
Most sports books monitored by Don Best Sports’ Real-Time Odds have opened this game as a pick’em (minus 110 each way), with the total set at five ‘under’ (minus 110).
Boston took a 3-2 series lead with Saturday’s 2-1 double overtime victory as a 170 home favorite. The combined three goals slithered below the five-goal closing total, leaving the ‘under’ 3-2 in the first five games.
Boston has seen the ‘under’ go 45-32 overall this season, while Montreal has seen the ‘under’ cash at a 49-28 clip. Additionally, the ‘under’ is 6-2-1 in Montreal’s last nine overall encounters.
Nathan Horton scored 9:03 into double overtime as the Boston Bruins secured the first home win of this series. The road team had won each of the first four matchups.
Defenseman Andrew Ference fired a wrist shot from the left point which was stopped by Montreal goalie Carey Price, but Horton found the puck at his feet and deposited it into the net for the game-winning goal.
Boston’s Brad Marchand netted his first postseason goal and Tim Thomas turned aside 44 shots to raise his overall ledger to 38-13-4-5. Thomas also lowered his goals-against average to 2.01 and raised his save percentage to .937.
After two scoreless periods, Marchand finally broke through at 4:33 of the third. The 22-year-old Nova Scotia native fed Patrice Bergeron, but Bergeron’s stick snapped and Marchand cleaned up a loose puck on the doorstep and banged it into the net.
Jeff Halpern leveled the contest with 6:04 remaining in the third period after accepting Mathieu Darche's centering feed and firing a wrist shot past Thomas.
Price finished with 49 saves in a losing effort. His overall record fell to 40-29-6-2 with a 2.33 GAA and .924 save percentage.
Both clubs continued to have problems with the man advantage. The Bruins were 0-for-3 on the power play, and are now 0-for-15 in the series. The Canadiens are 2-for-16 in the series thanks to a 0-for-2 night in Game 5.
The Bruins finished with a 51-46 advantage in shots on goal and now have outshot the Habs in the series, 177-165.
All five games in this series have been close affairs featuring desperate third-period counterattacks and wild momentum swings.
Though the Bruins are happy to own the momentum right now, they know by last year’s playoff flop against the Flyers (when they blew a 3-0 series lead) that it can change quickly.
If the Bruins win either Game 6 or 7, they would secure their first series victory in 27 attempts after dropping the first two contests of the set.
However, winning in Montreal won’t be easy despite early success in this series. The Bruins are still a poor 9-21 in their last 30 visits to Bell Centre.
The Don Best Sports injury report lists Montreal defenseman James Wisniewski as “questionable” with a lower body injury.