Matt Fraser thought about it. The Bruins winger thought about sneaking in some extra frozen yogurt, replicating the indulgence that had sparked his run of good luck — being called up in a playoff race, scoring the overtime winner in Game 4, and back in the lineup for Game 5.
He didn’t need it.
Fraser and his adopted line — the third on your lineup card — were masterful yet again Saturday, scoring the first and the fourth goals in a 4-2 win over the Canadiens.
That third line gave the Bruins the lead, a chance to play the way they prefer, and put them on the brink of a berth in the Eastern Conference final. The Bruins need one more win to advance, with their first chance coming Monday night in Game 6 in Montreal.
“Did everything we wanted to,” said Tuukka Rask, who had 29 saves. “Good start. Kept pushing, kept pushing, got the power-play goal. Never looked back.”
That started at 13:20 of the first period, when Carl Soderberg — eventually the winner of the team’s Old Time Hockey jacket — put the Bruins up. With molasses-legged Canadiens defenseman Douglas Murray chasing Loui Eriksson behind the net, the winger dished to Soderberg at the edge of the right faceoff circle. Soderberg beat Carey Price for his first career playoff goal.
“[Soderberg’s] a big body out there — skating real well and making some plays out there,” Eriksson said. “So, definitely a really good guy to have on the team. He can make big moments [and] plays out there. He played a great game today.
“He’s smart. He’s playing with confidence and he likes to go to the net a lot and put the puck there. You just need to read it well and I think we’re doing it right now.”
Asked whether he’s peaking, Soderberg said, “I don’t believe in peaks. I think hard work every game, that creates peaks. I don’t know, I’ve been pretty good right now, but I think I can play on this level the whole time.”
The Bruins can only hope so.
After the Bruins scored two power-play goals, the third line scored again. That one came at 14:12 of the third period, starting with a rush up ice from Soderberg. He passed to Fraser, who unleashed a shot, and Eriksson collected the rebound. The winger was patient with the puck, took it to his left around Price, and fired it home for a 4-1 lead.
“Carl Soderberg’s line has been arguably our best line so far in this series,” coach Claude Julien said. “They make things happen. Got to give them a lot of credit. That certainly takes a lot of pressure off the other lines.”
There aren’t many that would argue the point.
“You just kind of roll with it,” Fraser said. “It’s amazing what a little confidence can do with a line.”
Between the two goals scored by the third line, the Bruins dormant power play came alive, with two goals in 32 seconds for a 3-0 lead.
They opened the second on the power play, thanks to Tomas Plekanec, who was whistled off for plowing into Rask.
Dougie Hamilton started the play, sending a pass toward Reilly Smith in front of the net. The puck hit off both of Smith’s skates — right, then left — on its way past Price. The Bruins added on after another Plekanec call (high-stick to the throat of Johnny Boychuk), as Torey Krug sent a beautiful, no-look, backhanded cross-ice feed from the boards. Jarome Iginla inherited the puck by the left faceoff circle and beat Price.
Though the Bruins allowed two power-play goals — Brendan Gallagher at 14:39 of the second and by P.K. Subban at 17:31 of the third — it wasn’t enough for Montreal.
“We seemed more in control, we seemed to be putting pucks in the right areas, we seemed to be in synch, and I thought we were focused for the whole 60 minutes,” Julien said. “It was a great effort on our part and there’s a lot tougher times coming and we’ve got to be ready for the next one.”
They know because they’ve been here before. The Bruins led the Canadiens, 3-2, in their first-round series in 2011 with Game 6 in Montreal.
They lost, before returning to TD Garden and taking Game 7 en route to the Stanley Cup.
“It’s basically a must-win game,” Boychuk said. “You can’t sugarcoat it — it’s going to be a tough game. We have to battle hard and they’re a great team.
“We have to be prepared for everything. They’re going to be putting everything on the line and we shouldn’t be expecting anything less because they are a good team and we better be prepared.”Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.