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Boston Bruins centre Chris Kelly, right, pumps his fist as he is congratulated by teammates Michael Ryder, left, and Rich Peverley after scoring a goal against the Montreal Canadiens during the third period in Game 7 of a first-round NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoff series in Boston, Wednesday, April 27, 2011. (Charles Krupa)
Boston Bruins centre Chris Kelly, right, pumps his fist as he is congratulated by teammates Michael Ryder, left, and Rich Peverley after scoring a goal against the Montreal Canadiens during the third period in Game 7 of a first-round NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoff series in Boston, Wednesday, April 27, 2011. (Charles Krupa)

Bruins dream continues after downing Habs in OT Add to ...

With Boston's sports radio airwaves in a tizzy after a narrow Bruins loss in game six, the men in black and gold are to be commended for shrugging off the weight of history and eliminating their long-time foes in a thriller that had plot twists aplenty.

Asked if the series win gets the monkey off Boston's back, Ference smiled and said "a claw or two maybe."

There was also another entry in the NHL's ever-expanding head shot archive.

As Montreal's Jeff Halpern wheeled in the offensive zone to catch up with the play, he collided with Ference, who braced himself and ended up crunching Halpern's head - Ference wasn't penalized on the play, he would later set up Boston's go-ahead goal.

After the game, Ference said of Halpern lying on the ice for several moments "I don't know if he was trying to get a good penalty or what."

Halpern was taken to the "quiet room" as per the NHL concussion protocol, but returned shortly thereafter and finished the game.

Though the Bruins will be relieved at squeaking past the Habs - two road victories sandwiching a team retreat in Lake Placid, N.Y. were a determining factor - there is much to sort out if they hope to overcome Philadelphia.

And if there was heavy symbolism to playing Montreal in the first round, the Flyers will surely stir memories of last year's playoff collapse, which saw Boston gag on a 3-0 series lead and a 3-0 game seven lead at home to lose.

The first order of business should be the power-play, which went 0-for-21 in the series, and is mired in a 7-for-82 slide since Tomas Kaberle was acquired at great expense from the Toronto Maple Leafs at the trading deadline.

The second order is surely to light a fire under Milan Lucic, who scored no goals in the series after potting 30 in the regular season, and seemed out of sorts throughout, as did linemate David Krejci.

Still, there are positives.

Thomas won the first game seven of his career, and despite several high-wire moments was perhaps the central reason, along with rookie Brad Marchand, that the Bruins weren't swept off the map.

"Everyone knows Montreal is our biggest rivalry . . . and to be the team that came out on top it's pretty incredible to be part of," Thomas said. "If I would have said I knew we were going to win I'd be lying."

Boston captain Zdeno Chara, who found his game as the series progressed, had lost in all five of his previous game seven experiences, and the law of averages dictated that he wouldn't be on the losing side forever.

And like the Vancouver Canucks, who vanquished a perennial foe the previous night, the Bruins may well take flight after winning their first game seven against Montreal since 1994.

Although this ended up being a tight one.

Price, who pitched a shutout the last time he played a game seven against the Bruins, was especially brilliant in the third period, making a miraculous save at the side of the net on Recchi early on to keep the game tied.

As the Boston winger pounced on a rebound, Price sprawled to his right, getting his paddle and glove down to repel a shot that was destined for the back of the cage.

But his heroics wouldn't be enough.

At the midway point of the third, Chris Kelly bowled Montreal's Roman Hamrlik over in the neutral zone and the Czech defenceman, who will complain he was caught with a high-stick, lay sprawled on the ice as Kelly followed the puck to the front of the net, where he shovelled a rebound past a stranded Price.

An apprehensive city could finally exhale.

The pre-game advice Recchi, one of only three Bruins not to have lost more game sevens than they'd won, gave to his teammates was to have fun, just relax.

And Boston came out like a team that feels good about itself; though Montreal got an early scoring chance, it was the Bruins that drew first blood.

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