|MTL||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||2|
|BOS||0||0||0||(null - null)||0|
GAME: Montreal Canadiens at Boston Bruins.
PLAYOFF SERIES: Eastern Conference quarterfinal; series tied 3-3.
TIME: Monday, 7 p.m. EDT.
There is very little the Montreal Canadiens have not accomplished in their storied history.
Rallying from a 3-1 series deficit is one of the few things still on their list.
Montreal looks to complete an improbable comeback and earn a place in the Eastern Conference semifinals when it faces the archrival Boston Bruins in Game 7 at the FleetCenter.
The Canadiens appeared headed for elimination after Alex Kovalev's giveaway in double overtime of Game 4 gave the Bruins a 3-1 series lead with Game 5 to be played in Boston. But with strong performances from goalie Jose Theodore and the line of captain Saku Koivu, Richard Zednik and Kovalev, Montreal recorded a 5-1 victory in Game 5 to send the series back to Montreal.
On Saturday, Koivu and Yanic Perreault scored in the second period, and enforcer Darren Langdon added a rare goal to lift the Canadiens to a 5-2 victory in Game 6, forcing the sixth Game 7 between these longtime rivals.
History was not on Montreal's side once it fell behind 3-1 in this series.
The Canadiens are 0-12 when trailing a playoff series 3-1, and the Bruins are 14-0 when leading by the same margin. Boston has won six straight Game 7s, including the last two against Montreal in 1994 and 1991.
"We're looking forward to it," Bruins coach Mike Sullivan said. "It's another opportunity for us to advance, to get to where we want to be. I believe we have a resilient group and this team has been through a lot this year and they've always found a way to respond. I believe in these guys and I know they'll have their best effort for Game 7."
Though they will play Game 7 on the road, the Canadiens clearly have momentum on their side.
"We have to believe we can win going in there, otherwise leave your skates here," Koivu said. "One thing about this team, we didn't give up in the regular season. We battle to the end. We've come a long way and done a lot of positive things."
Finding a way to contain Montreal's top line must be a top priority for Sullivan and the Bruins on Monday.
Koivu, Kovalev and Zednik have combined for eight goals and eight assists in the past four games. Kovalev, the goat in Game 4, has goals in four straight games and five in the series.
While Montreal has received excellent play from its captain, Boston is still waiting for its leader, Joe Thornton, to deliver his first point of the series. Thornton has 11 shots on goal and is a minus-4 in the six games.
That the Bruins are in a Game 7 without a point from their captain is remarkable.
Thornton missed the final two regular-season games with an "upper body injury" and clearly is not 100 percent. He was a team-worst minus-3 in Game 6, and has no goals and one assist in 12 regular season and playoff games against Montreal in 2003-04.
"He was more solid defensively," Sullivan said of Thornton. "But, obviously, he's struggling offensively, and we have to get him going. But he's got a lot of things personally he can draw on from this game."
Goaltending figured to be an advantage for Montreal in this series with Theodore, a former Hart and Vezina Trophy winner, facing Andrew Raycroft, a rookie making his playoff debut.
Following a sub-par performance in Game 4, Theodore has stopped 65 of 68 shots the past two games.
Raycroft, meanwhile, has surrendered 14 goals in the last four games after holding the Canadiens to one goal in Games 1 and 2.
Should Montreal win, it would face top-seeded Tampa Bay in the semifinals. Boston would face Philadelphia in the next round.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Canadiens - 93 points; 7th seed. Bruins - 104 points; 2nd seed.
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Canadiens - Kovalev, 5 goals; Koivu, 6 assists and 8 points; Sheldon Souray, 10 PIM. Bruins - Michael Nylander, 3 goals; Sergei Samsonov, 5 assists and 7 points; Thornton, 14 PIM.
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Canadiens - Power play: 11.1 percent (3 for 27). Penalty killing: 91.7 percent (22 for 24). Bruins - Power play: 8.3 percent (2 for 24). Penalty killing: 88.9 percent (24 for 27).
GOALTENDERS: Canadiens - Theodore (3-3, 2.15 GAA); Mathieu Garon (no appearances). Bruins - Raycroft (3-3, 1 SO, 2.32); Felix Potvin (no appearances).
|Apr 07 '04||MTL 0 at BOS 3||S. Gonchar|
|Apr 09 '04||MTL 1 at BOS 2 - OT||P. Bergeron|
|Apr 11 '04||BOS 2 at MTL 3||A. Markov|
|Apr 13 '04||BOS 4 at MTL 3 - OT||G. Murray|
|Apr 15 '04||MTL 5 at BOS 1||A. Kovalev|
|Apr 17 '04||BOS 2 at MTL 5||Y. Perreault|
|Apr 19 '04||MTL 2 at BOS 0||R. Zednik|