MONTREAL — As the game wore on, it looked like it would be an all-night affair. Tuukka Rask and Carey Price matched each other save for save, and the later it got, the more it didn’t appear either goaltender would yield an inch of his net.
But 1:19 into overtime, new arrival Matt Fraser played hero by scoring for the Bruins, who beat the Canadiens, 1-0, Thursday at the Bell Centre to tie the best-of-seven series at two games apiece. It wasn’t a pretty goal, there was no perfect setup or deft pass or flashy move. It came off a scramble in front with chaos reigning in front of Price. It started with the puck caroming off the glass.
“I came around on the other side and it bounced over my stick and I lost it in the crowd of people in front of me,’’ said Price, who had eyes on the puck from the time it left the glass behind him. “Somebody yelled, ‘Over,’ so I looked over my left shoulder and obviously it wasn’t there and somebody poked it on the other side. I knew where it was when it came off the glass, I just lost it when it hit a shin pad in front of the net. I don’t know what else to tell you. I watched it the whole way.’’
Price said it’s the type of bounce that decides a tight game, but he was happy with the way the Canadiens battled.
“I thought both teams played very well tonight. I thought that game could’ve went either way,’’ he said. “That’s playoff hockey. Both teams deserved to win that game.’’
The series moves back to Boston for Game 5 on Saturday night at TD Garden, and the message in the Canadiens’ dressing room was that even though they were disappointed with the Game 4 outcome, the series is now a best-of-three and all that happened through four games was in their rearview mirror.
“The second half of the game, I really thought we took the play to them and had some great opportunities,’’ said Canadiens captain Brian Gionta, who had a game high-tying five shots on net. “We did some good things in there and that’s why it stings so much.’’
In the first three games, the Canadiens established leads that forced the Bruins to fight back, particularly in the third period. In Game 4, that didn’t happen. No team scored in regulation, so there was no deficit to deal with.
“They made adjustments. I thought they had a good push at the start of the game, which we expected,’’ said Gionta. “They wanted to have better starts and I thought they accomplished that tonight, but we really made a push back maybe halfway through that second and had some great opportunities, and both goalies played great. It’s all tied. It’s bitter right now, but at the end of the day it’s still a tied series.’’
Rask turned back all 33 shots he faced, and Gionta said they needed to make it harder on him.
“We didn’t get as much traffic as we have in the past couple of games, so we need to try to get back to that,’’ Gionta said. “We had some Grade A opportunities but we didn’t have that traffic in front of him where we’ve had success before.’’
The Canadiens will spend Friday regrouping and then be ready for Game 5.
“There’s no difference from game to game,’’ Gionta said. “That’s playoffs, you reset and try to get going again. I think it’s no different now. It’s the best of three going down the stretch and it will be good. I thought it was a pretty good game both ways.’’
And they will try to dirty up their offensive chances.
“I thought we did a good job of establishing our forecheck and having a little more sustained pressure,’’ said Gionta. “Obviously, it was a big swing game and I thought we deserved a better outcome.”