By Mary Paoletti
BOSTON -- Tension was expected. But this much?The Bruins and Canadiens, their series tied 2-2 heading into Saturday night's Game 5 at TD Garden, couldn't decide matters in regulation, nor in just one overtime. The goalies -- Boston's Tim Thomas and Montreal's Carey Price -- were superb, making one outstanding save after another.
Leave it to a rookie -- a playoff rookie -- to decide the matter.Nathan Horton, playing in his first postseason after spending six years in the wilderness with the Florida Panthers, popped in the rebound of an Andrew Ference shot at 9:03 of the second overtime, giving the Bruins a 2-1 victory over the Canadiens and a 3-2 series lead.
Boston, which lost the first two games at home, now has a chance to close things out at the Bell Centre in Game 6 on Tuesday night.
Though Thomas finished with a playoff career-high 44 saves, Michael Ryder made the first huge stop of the night. Thomas came out of the crease to challenge a Montreal breakaway. Thomas made a save on Roman Hamrlik's bid, but couldn't corral the rebound and half the net was left empty. Ryder stopped the surefire goal by somehow getting a glove up on the puck while in a near-split.
Ryder's save foreshadowed what would be a game of many near-misses. The score was 0-0 after the first 40 minutes; the first scoreless periods of the series.
After two, the Canadiens won 23-39 faceoffs and Boston won the shooting battle, 21-16, but neither team could translate the stat battles into points.
Brad Marchand scored to break the game open at 4:33 in the third period. But the lead wasn't safe for long. Jeff Halpren took advantage off a Bruins turnover and buried one past Tim Thomas to knot the score 1-1 with 6:04 left to play.
Mary Paoletti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti