BOSTON -- For the second time in as many games in the Eastern Conference Second Round, the Boston Bruins rallied from a two-goal deficit against the Montreal Canadiens.
This time, the Bruins won.
Forward Reilly Smith capped a run of three Boston goals in 5:32 of the third period, and the Bruins defeated the Canadiens 5-3 Saturday at TD Garden to even the best-of-7 series 1-1.
The Bruins trailed 3-1 after Montreal forward Thomas Vanek scored at 6:30 of the third period. Boston rallied from 2-0 down in Game 1 and trailed 3-2 before losing 4-3 in double overtime Thursday.
Game 3 is at Bell Centre in Montreal on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
"It's a big win, there's no question," Bruins forward Jarome Iginla said. "We did a lot of good things again. We fought through a lot of stuff tonight. Some things didn't go our way and it feels good that guys stayed with it, stayed positive. We were able to get a late comeback and that's big, something to build on. Game 2 is more important than Game 1, after the first one. So, it feels good. Guys played hard and found a way. But now, that's just one."
Smith beat Montreal goaltender Carey Price with a wrist shot from near the bottom of the right circle with 3:32 left to put Boston ahead 4-3. The Bruins have rallied from 2-0 down to win twice in these Stanley Cup Playoffs (they also did it in Game 4 of the first round against the Detroit Red Wings).
It was the 11th comeback victory after a multigoal deficit in this year's playoffs.
"Well obviously we've got to find a way to not get into that position, if we can," Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said. "But I think we're a resilient group and we've been there before and we have the confidence that we can actually come back in games. Tonight was a perfect example of that. That being said, they outplayed us for more than half the game, so we've got to be better."
Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton started the comeback by changing his angle on the blue line then beating a moving Price with a wrist shot through traffic that cut the lead to 3-2 at 10:56 of the third. Bergeron tied the game with a wrist shot from up high near the right half wall. The puck deflected off Montreal defenseman Francis Bouillon before it went past Price with 5:43 to go.
Price, who stopped 48 shots in Game 1, finished with 30 saves. Vanek scored two goals after failing to land a shot on net in Game 1.
"Well they poured it on at the end of the game," Price said. "They got pretty lucky, I thought. They were playing desperate at the end of the game and they found a way to put it in the net. We've just got to regroup, realize the situation we're in, we're in a good spot, and move forward."
The Canadiens trailed for a total of 3:34 through their first five postseason games, including a first-round sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Bruins took their first lead of this series at 13:02 of the first period. Defenseman Andrej Meszaros missed wide on a shot from the blue line and center Carl Soderberg kept the puck in at the right wall. Soderberg found Daniel Paille at the high slot for a snap shot that was nicked by Bouillon's stick and eluded Price.
The Bruins failed to take advantage of a 1:00 5-on-3 advantage earlier in the first. The Canadiens were 0-for-2 on the power play in the period.
Montreal wasted little time to pull even in the second. Defenseman Mike Weaver smacked a one-timer from the top of the right circle past Rask at 1:09 off a feed from Tomas Plekanec. The Canadiens had been buzzing around the Bruins net, but Rask did some acrobatics to keep the puck out before the goal.
Vanek broke the tie at 18:09 of the period during a 4-on-3 power play. After Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara turned over the puck to Montreal forward Max Pacioretty, defenseman P.K. Subban zipped a pass to the front, where Vanek just got his stick down in time for a tip that gave the Canadiens a 2-1 lead.
Vanek extended the Canadiens' lead at 6:30 of the third period on another Montreal power play. Subban took a shot from the blue line and Vanek tipped it in after it emerged from a lot of traffic. It might've also been tipped out high before giving Montreal a 3-1 lead.
"We had a two-goal lead. We have to manage the puck better and do smarter things out there, making sure we are being smart with the puck and putting ourselves in a good position," said Subban, who had two assists to give him nine points in six playoff games. "Nine minutes left to go in the game, we have to shut it down. Good teams know how to shut things down when they have the lead. We are a good team, we have done it before. But at the same token we came here wanting to get one win, obviously we would have liked to have two, but we got one. We have home-ice advantage, we're going back to Montreal, and we'll be ready to play."
With the series tied, the Bruins will focus on a better start on the road.
"For sure ... it wasn't close to being good enough, especially at this time of year," Bergeron said. "We needed to respond and I thought all the guys did that in that third period. But like I've said, we've got to start earlier. We've got to have a 60-minute effort. We haven't done that so far."