Friday, April 16, 2004

Battlin Back Habs

Montreal won’t roll over and die, that message was sent to the Bruins at the Fleet Centre Thursday night, as the Habs stayed alive with a 5-1 victory over Boston. Coming out and playing with a purpose they dominated the Bruins for a good portion of the game, finding the magic key to Andrew Raycroft in the Bruin net. The Bruins fans who probably thought they would be celebrating a series clinching victory sat stunned as the Canadiens seemed to score at will.

The tough hitting of this series continued with both teams trading off hits as the game progressed. But the Bruins tended to get carried away with the toughness part of the game, playing an undisciplined style taking too many bad penalties, giving Montreal the chance to stay alive.

For Montreal it was a night when everything came together, the Habs who should probably have entered game five tied with the Bruins at least, were able to regroup after Game Four’s disappointing end. Game Four goat Alexi Kovalev factored into the scoring of game five, scoring his playoff leading fourth goal of the series on the way to the victory. Kovalev can’t wait for the puck to drop on Saturday night in front of the hometown crowd at the Bell Centre.

Jose Theodore recaptured his form in this game, the first one in which it can be said he outplayed Andrew Raycroft. Theodore kept the Habs in the game in the early stages, with save after save. The Habs rewarded him for his help by slowly building up their lead and shutting down the Bruin attack.

Scoring for Montreal Thursday night were Yanic Perrault, Alexei Kovalev, Richard Zednick, Saku Koivu and Craig Rivet. Glen Murray netted the only goal for the B’s, who still lead the series 3 games to 2, but must be the team feeling the pressure heading into game number six on Saturday night. They have watched Montreal refuse to go away and actually the Habs have taken away the play in the last three games, slowly building up their momentum in each one.

Boston coach Mike Sullivan will be working on the Bruins ability to counter the Montreal defensive stylings, a system that effectively shuts down the oncoming rush before it can get organized. He also will have to stress the need for team discipline; badly timed penalties could be the downfall of the Bruins in game six.

Montreal clawed their way back into the series on Thursday; Saturday could be the game that puts them in the driver’s seat for a game seven showdown back in Boston next week.

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