Matt Fraser's OT goal wins it for the B's, series tied 2-2 heading back to Boston
For all the Bruins players who've scored their first playoff goal this postseason, I think we have the new leader for most memorable.
Matt Fraser, just called up today to play in this Game 4, netted the overtime game-winner just a minute into the extra period to give the Bruins the 1-0 win over Montreal after a highly-contested and frantic night at the Bell Centre.
Winner! Fraser is the OT hero in Game 4 (via ESPN.com)
Tuukka Rask turned aside 33 shots to pick up his second shutout of the 2014 postseason and the fifth in his career.
The best-of-seven series is now tied at 2-2 heading back to Boston for Game 5 on Saturday.
A combined 68 shots were fired towards both nets through the 61 minutes of action, and after the previous three games saw a number of goals scored by way of poor defensive play, we saw the exact opposite in Game 4. Both the Habs and the Bruins played with an added sense of caution when it came to taking chances in trade for leaving their spots on the ice.
Push too far and you'll leave room for the opponent to sneak in behind you. Sit too far back and you're susceptible to a constant barrage of pucks and bodies.
Boston and Montreal played the constant tug-of-war battle of trying to find the right balance of both play styles. What resulted was a stalemate on the ice, and doughnuts on the scoreboard.
Tuukka makes one of his 33 saves on Rene Borque in the first period (via ESPN.com)
The Bruins came out
playing hard enough and generated some decent chances on net, outshooting the
Habs 13-10 in the first period. But some lines had better chances more so than
others. That's a longer way of saying every-line-except-the-first-line.
Right from the drop of
the puck, both the second and third lines were the best for Boston, with the
Merlot line following closely behind them, and then in last, and disappointing
place, the first line of David Krejci, Jarome Iginla and Milan Lucic.
The period didn't see
any goals scored, but it did see plenty of chances in tight for both teams. The
Bruins pushed the pace for much of the period, as Montreal was content to sit
back and absorb the pressure, then quickly punch back with a counterattack when
The chances for
the Bruins came from Carl Soderberg getting
in close but whiffing on the attempt, and Torey
Krug unleashing a bomb from the slot that generated a huge rebound off of Price's pads, but with no one there to
clean up the garbage, the attempt went by the boards. With just under five minutes to go, the BMS line generated another great chance
in close to Price, with Reilly Smith coming out to the side of
the net in space, but he wristed his shot right into the logo of the Montreal
For as much as the
Bruins had their chances, the first-line of David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Jarome
Iginla were again inconsistent and sluggish.
Boston's best chance of
the period came in the last minute of the play, when Carl Soderberg wristed a shot that hit off the crossbar with Price down. Soderberg drove the forecheck and forced a turnover behind the net.
Matt Fraser jumped on the puck in
the corner and shot on Price, with the rebound finding itself over to Soderberg
in front of the net. His shot dinged off the crossbar and into the net out of play.
Even with the missed
attempt, Soderberg was the best player
on the ice for the Bruins, alongside with Tuukka
The second period saw
more of the same from both teams, with both the Habs and and Bruins trading
chances in each zone. The Bruins again came out with the legs and put the
pressure on Montreal, getting pucks on net and working the cycle game. But no goals came from their efforts.
The Bruins outshot the Habs 12-9 in the period and had to rely on Tuukka Rask to bail them out towards the end of the frame. Michael Bournival had a wide open shot uncontested in the slot and blew it right on Rask. Later on, after David Krejci had yet another offensive-zone turnover, the outlet pass from the Habs found Brian Gionta on a breakaway, but Rask again shut the door on the Canadiens.
Rask stones Gionta on a breakaway in the second period (via ESPN.com)
The third period played exactly like the first two, save for the fact that the Habs outshot the Bruins 14-7 in the 20 minutes played. It definitely showed, as the Bruins looked to be running out of gas towards the end of action. One particular sequence saw Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton caught in their own zone for over a minute-plus, with the Habs pouring on pressure trying to break through Rask.
Neither team could find the one goal to win it late, leaving us with more overtime to deal with.
Except this time, the Bruins didn't wait forever to find a winner.
Matt Fraser, the 23-year-old who was called up today to skate in place of Justin Florek in his first-career playoff game, netted the winner just 1:19 into overtime.
With Carl Soderberg driving the forecheck in the zone (who else?), he was the one who got the jump on the Habs in the offensive zone. Johnny Boychuk fired the puck back towards the net, where it bounced off the end boards and back towards Price. Soderberg drove the net, causing havoc in the crease, which allowed Fraser to sneak in the back door and jam the loose puck home past the unsuspecting Habs defenders.
Elevation: Fraser jumps for joy after netting his OT-winner (via ESPN.com)
Serious goal. Serious win. Series tied going back home to Boston.
It wasn't pretty, and for much of the game it was extraordinarily frustrating. We again saw more of the same talking points from the first three games of the series: the first line being a non-factor. More and more missed scoring opportunities. An inability to either clear the defensive zone or make clean breakouts through neutral ice.
But the Bruins showed a great deal of championship mettle by weathering the attack from the Habs in the hostile environment that is the Bell Centre and were able to hang in the game long enough to give themselves a chance to win.
Being tied 2-2 is worlds different than being down 1-3. A loss tonight would've almost certainly meant season over for the Black and Gold. Through four games played in an incredibly tight series, there is still plenty of time to have more of the same between these two teams.