|Glen Metropolit, who deposited the winning goal, also delivered a flying check to Montreal's Mike Komisarek. (Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff)|
MONTREAL - He turned around, and there it was, so sweet and so deliciously unexpected. After all that work, all those weeks without a goal, Glen Metropolit had a gift dropped in front of him, a moment so magical he might have expected the Bell Centre roof to part, music to play down from the stars.
"About time, wouldn't you say?" said Metropolit, fresh from potting the goal that propelled the Bruins to their 5-1 win over the Canadiens last night in Game 5 of their best-of-seven first-round playoff series. "I think the hockey gods owed us one or two."
With 3:31 gone in the third period, Habs goalie Carey Price, the cool-as-a-cucumber rookie backstop, fielded a popup near the post with his left (glove) hand. Rather than hold on for the stoppage in play, and an ensuing faceoff in the Montreal end, the rookie took a step in the slot toward Maxim Lapierre and attempted to drop the puck at his feet.
But Price hesitated slightly, muffed the handoff just a smidge, looked uncharacteristically flustered.
"With his attitude, I don't know if you are ever going to rattle him," mused veteran Marc Savard. "I don't know if he would get excited if he won the lottery."
Well, the numbers weren't turning for Price when he dropped the puck. The exchange was botched, and there was Metropolit, still lingering around the net after a couple of attempts by linemate Petteri Nokelainen. Bad exchange. Loose puck.
Metropolit made a quick sweep with his stick and he batted it directly into the net. The point of contact for the shot was not Metropolit's blade, but the lower end of his stick shaft, which ultimately led to a brief review by off-ice officials.
"I knew it was a goal, for sure," said Metropolit, who came to Boston's camp as a walk-on in September and needed to make the club to be offered a contract. "It went in off my shaft, that's all. It's a pretty good feeling. It's been a long time."
Fact is, it was Metropolit's first career playoff goal, a long time indeed, considering he entered the NHL in 1999. And despite having a career-high 33 points this season, Metropolit went the final 29 games of the regular season without a goal, dating to Feb. 5. Add in his 0 for 4 in the playoffs, and he went 33 consecutive games without potting one.
"I'm really happy for him; he played extremely hard," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "He has been snakebitten in [the scoring] area, and maybe tonight will give him a lot of confidence, take the weight off of his shoulders a little bit."
Once the Metropolit goal was in the net, the Bruins began to gain confidence, shift to shift, and although Julien later cautioned that no one should think they got in Price's head, the goalie looked shaky for the remainder of the period. Marco Sturm drove home a slapper off the left wing with 4:47 to play, a shot Price normally would take in the way a Venus Flytrap would snare a fly. With 2:12 to go, perhaps disinterested by this point, Price had a Vladimir Sobotka deep-angle shot off the left side elude his glove hand.
For a period, anyway, Price did not look like the Ken Dryden knockoff everyone has talked about all season.
"Nice feeling . . . kind of feel rewarded," said Savard. "Game No. 1 wasn't one of our prettier efforts, but the last two games we thought we deserved more.
"Now we just have to stick with it."