Down by two goals entering the third period, the Canadiens battled hard in the final 20 minutes, using their speed over the Bruins' slow defense to make a game of it. Boston coach Claude Julien could have just played a shut down period, similar to what his counterpart Jacques Martin would do, but chose not to. It could have cost him a three game deficit.
Unfortunately for the Canadiens, they didn't seem to have the effort we saw in the first two games during the first half of the game. The Bruins may have got a break in a 4-2 Game Three win.
First goals are always pivotal in the playoffs, and in this game the Bruins struck first. The Canadiens were unable to establish control in their own end. That allowed David Krejci to skate in alone, fresh off the bench, and take a perfect pass from Patrice Bergeron to beat Carey Price at 3:11 of the first period.
The Bruins then began to pick up momentum and begin driving pucks at Price, and the Canadiens goaltender was then called on to make a string of quick saves. Nathan Horton managed to bank a shot off of the pad of Price at 14:38 to give them a two-goal lead.
"They came out playing like a team that was down two games," Price said after the game. "They capitalized on a couple mistakes out there, and that was all they needed."
The Canadiens netminder admitted that he and his teammates played unprepared with a loose morning skate, much to the chagrin of their coaches, and it showed in the first half of the game. Benoit Pouliot demonstrated that, as well by taking a charging call and fighting major for a tussle with Andrew Ference late in the period. It clearly did not impress coach Martin, as he limited the forward to 1:16 TOI the rest of the night.
The trend carried for the Canadiens into the second period. Price, known for his smart stick-handling made a clearly mental error by shooting the puck off the shin of Mark Recchi and onto the stick of Rich Peverley at 2:02 of the second.
"We got what we deserved in the first period," he said. "It makes you aware of the real situation. If we don't play like we did in Boston, we're not going to win."
Andrei Kostitsyn managed to get the Bell Centre crowd back into the game, netting his first playoff goal in 19 games at 7:03.
From there, the ice tilted strongly in the Canadiens favour. From the drop of the puck, they took control of the period, managing 15 shots on the Bruins Tim Thomas.
The overall picture of momentum change could be viewed by stats alone. During a TV time out, around the 9:39 mark of the second period, the Bruins had 15 SOG, 10 shots blocked and 10 that missed. By game's end their final totals were 25-17-14. The Canadiens were 15-8-5 and 36-22-9 at those same points respectively.
Tim Thomas played what was tweeted by Bruins blogger Joe Haggerty as "vintage Thomas." If by that you mean vintage as getting lucky bounces, catching pucks that are going wide by 15', making "outstanding saves" on shots 30+ feet out, or off a guy who has to jump over/shoot around a bunch of sticks, then yes he did. HNIC's Garry Galley and Glenn Healy echoed Haggerty's thoughts, after critiquing the Bruins netminder most of the series.
Already giving up a soft goal to Kostitsyn earlier in the game, Thomas surrendered a second goal to Tomas Plekanec at 4:08. The Canadiens center made a spinorama move, similar to his Game One attempt, and this time it found the five hole past Thomas.
Regardless of the views on Thomas, it was too late for the Canadiens as Chris Kelly put the game out of reach with an empty net goal.
The Canadiens now have a 2-1 series lead, and will take Tuesday off to regroup for Game 4 on Thursday.
"It's going to be good to refocus and reset ourselves," Price said. "We need to be ready to go. We had a lot of good things to take out of that game."
The Bruins will head off to Lake Placid, NY to prepare for Thursday's game, and have to realize they nearly had a deja vu of last year's Game Seven, almost blowing a three-goal lead.
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara returned for Game Three, and played 26:20. Chara was on the ice for two Bruins goals and both Canadiens goals.
P.K. Subban led both teams in TOI, for the third straight game, with 26:50.
The winning side from Stanley Cup of Chowder
Three Stars: 1. Patrice Bergeron 2. Andrei Kostitsyn 3. Mike Cammalleri
|03:11 BOS||David Krejci, 1 (Patrice Bergeron, 1 Dennis Seidenberg, 1) (BOS: 30 33 44 37 46 17 MTL: 44 6 13 14 46 31)|
|14:38 BOS||Nathan Horton, 1 (Zdeno Chara, 1 Adam Mcquaid, 1) (BOS: 30 33 18 37 54 63 MTL: 6 52 31 58 53 76)|
|02:02 BOS||Rich Peverley, 1 (Mark Recchi, 2 Kirk Macdonald, 1) (BOS: 28 30 12 44 49 63 MTL: 75 55 52 13 31 94)|
|07:03 MTL||Andrei Kostitsyn, 1 (Michael Cammalleri, 2 Roman Hamrlik, 2) (BOS: 30 33 22 44 20 49 MTL: 44 55 13 14 46 31)|
|04:08 MTL||Tomas Plekanec, 1 (Michael Cammalleri, 3 P.k. Subban, 1) (BOS: 30 33 44 18 46 17 MTL: 75 13 14 46 31 76)|
|19:34 BOS||Chris Kelly, 1 (Mark Recchi, 3 Patrice Bergeron, 2) (BOS: 28 30 21 23 44 37 MTL: 11 21 13 14 20 76)|