MONTREAL -- Bruins center Michael Nylander didn't skate yesterday and was gone from the rink by the time most of his teammates took the ice at the Bell Centre for practice.
However, coach Mike Sullivan sounded encouraged that the flu-like symptoms that kept Nylander out of the lineup Sunday night had subsided enough for him perhaps to give it a go tonight in Game 4 of this first-round playoff series against the Canadiens.
"He's feeling a little bit better," said Sullivan. "There's a decent chance he'll play."
Despite Nylander's substantial contributions in the first two games (two goals and two assists), Sullivan played down his absence, saying that it wasn't the reason the team lost, 3-2 score.
"Injuries are part of the process, it's part of the playoffs," said the coach. "Good teams find ways to fight through them. Does it hurt to have a guy like Michael Nylander not in our lineup? Sure it does. But that's why we have depth and we have people we feel can step in and do the job."
Initially, it was believed by some around the club that Nylander's symptoms might be the result of a crushing open-ice hit by Montreal forward Steve Begin midway through the third period in Game 2 but Sullivan said he believed the virus was the sole cause of the player's problem.
Five other Bruins besides Nylander didn't skate: right wings Marty Lapointe and Glen Murray, defenseman Nick Boynton, and left wings Sergei Samsonov and P.J. Axelsson . . . Because the American national anthem was booed so vociferously before Game 3 at the Bell Centre, veteran defenseman Hal Gill asked Bruins officials if a video message could be played before Game 5 at the FleetCenter, asking fans to respect both anthems. Two years ago, such a message was played in Boston after the US anthem was booed in Montreal, and it seemed to go a long way toward quelling any retaliatory disrespect . . . Speaking of nasty greetings, goalie Andrew Raycroft was treated to some X-rated taunting at times during Sunday's contest, but the low-key rookie wasn't remotely rattled. "I thought it was hilarious," said Raycroft, who heads into tonight with a 1.33 goals-against average and .955 save percentage in the series. "When 20,000 people know your name, that's pretty cool. It's all part of the fun and excitement of playing in the playoffs." . . . Nice touch by the Bruins, having Jonathan Girard's jersey and name posted in a stall in the visitors' dressing room. Girard, who continues his extraordinary recovery from a car accident last July, has been back skating and working out in Boston and has joined his teammates here . . . Montreal center Mike Ribeiro didn't practice yesterday, and the team reported that he was injured. With 33.7 seconds remaining in the third period of Game 3, the Bruins pressuring Montreal, and Raycroft pulled for an extra attacker, Ribeiro fell to the ice after being brushed by Mike Knuble, appearing to be badly injured. However, the Bruins thought he was faking to get a whistle and stop Boston's attack.