Bruins 2, Canadiens 1 (OT)

Delayed gratification

Savard's overtime goal stops Montreal's roll

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / April 14, 2008

In overtime, as Peter Schaefer lugged the puck up the left-side wall, former Bruin Bryan Smolinski hacked at the winger with a slash that turned into a delayed penalty.

Schaefer never felt it.

"Too much adrenaline to figure out what was going on," said Schaefer.

It's no surprise that the juices were flowing for Schaefer and the rest of the Bruins, considering the breathtaking situation.

Overtime. Trailing, two games to none, against the hated Canadiens, a bunch the Bruins never had beaten this season. In danger of going down by three games and possibly getting swept by their archrivals.

In the first period, the Bruins had taken a 1-0 advantage, the first lead they held over the Canadiens all season, when Milan Lucic took a feed from Marc Savard and roofed a shot over goalie Carey Price (29 saves). But in the second period, the Canadiens wiped out the advantage when the gritty fourth line of Smolinski, Steve Begin, and Tom Kostopoulos forced a defensive-zone turnover, crashed the net, and beat Tim Thomas at 4:26 (the goal by Kostopoulos) to make it a 1-1 game.

And by extra time, the rolling Montreal attack had discovered its rhythm, putting six dangerous pucks on Thomas in hopes of scoring a second OT win and burying the hard-luck Bruins, most likely for good.

But Schaefer kept his cool in the moments following the Smolinski slash, dishing the puck to Dennis Wideman. The defenseman, in turn, made a heads-up pass to Savard, who buried the winning shot without hesitation, giving the Bruins a 2-1 overtime victory.

"I just hustled to the bench as quick as I could, thinking, 'We've got to get one on this power play,' " Thomas recalled. "By the time I got to the bench and watched, I saw the composure that Schaefer had, which turned into the composure that Wideman had, which turned into Savard's goal."

With the victory before 17,565 at TD Banknorth Garden, which was awash with Canadiens fans, the Bruins clawed back into the series, which they trail two games to one.

"To come out and get it today in that manner, never giving up," Thomas said, "shows the same character of this team that we've been showing all year long."

Instead of panic, what Schaefer and his five teammates on the ice - Thomas had sprinted to the bench and was replaced by Savard - mastered was a sense of calm despite the stomach-churning moment.

Schaefer could have let up, allowed a whistle to blow, and set the Boston power play loose on Price. Instead, he held onto the puck after the Smolinski slash and carried it into the corner.

"When there's a penalty coming, you can be a little more patient," Schaefer said. "In overtime, you don't want to turn over the puck. But if there's a penalty coming, you can try and make a play you normally wouldn't make."

For that to happen, however, it took a split-second decision by Wideman: to jump or not to jump up into the play.

Wideman was jumpy in the 4-1 series-opening loss, committing a giveaway that led to Montreal's second goal. He never got a chance to hit the ice in Game 2, shelved by a lower-torso injury. Last night, Wideman returned to the lineup, having to shake off two hindrances: his injury and his confidence-sapping yips.

In overtime, he conquered both.

As Schaefer controlled the puck, Wideman recognized that a shift in the Montreal defense created a fat pocket in the slot. Wideman jumped into the hole, putting himself in position for a Schaefer feed.

"Wides is unbelievable at finding those seams," said Petteri Nokelainen, on the ice for the winner. "That's what he does, and he did it again."

Wideman took the pass, skated to the left circle, and realized that he probably should have snapped off a wrister instead of making his shooting angle worse. As he was running out of room, he heard Savard, who had sprinted to the right circle, yelling for the puck.

Wideman looked over his right shoulder, saw Savard with stick at the ready, and pulled a backhand pass to his center. Savard didn't miss.

"Obviously it's a great win for us for all the right reasons," said coach Claude Julien. "I think to get that monkey off our back - 13 [consecutive] losses from before - and obviously getting us, more importantly, back in the series. We realize we're still trailing and there's lots of work left to be done.

"But tonight was just one of those games. I thought it looked a lot like the game [Saturday] night, hard-fought by both teams. But this time, Lady Luck smiled on us."

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