Montreal Canadiens right wing Michael Ryder (73) is tripped up as he collides with Boston Bruins left wing P.J. Axelsson (11), of Sweden in the second period of Game 3 of the NHL Eastern Conference quarterfinal hockey playoffs in Boston, Sunday April 13, 2008. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Charles Krupa
BOSTON - Marc Savard's first career playoff goal was the overtime winner as the Boston Bruins downed the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 Sunday to climb back into their best-of-seven first-round playoff series.
Savard converted a nice cross-ice feed from Denis Wideman 9:25 into the first overtime on a delayed penalty call to the Canadiens, shooting it into an empty net as goalie Carey Price was left scrambling.
Milan Lucic also scored his first career playoff goal for the Bruins, who will attempt to tie the series at two games apiece in Game 4 on Tuesday.
Tom Kostopoulos scored his second of the playoffs for the Canadiens, who suffered their first loss to Boston in 14 games over two seasons and these playoffs.
Tim Thomas was big for the Bruins with 27 saves to earn his first career playoff victory, and making sure to give Savard a chance for his heroics. In the first five minutes of the overtime alone, Thomas made a fantastic kick save on Kostopoulos and another highlight reel blocker stop on Mathieu Dandenault.
Price made 29 saves for the Canadiens to take his first career playoff loss.
The Bruins took their first lead against the Canadiens this season when Lucic scored the game's first goal, snapping a streak of 614 minutes of play either tied or trailing Montreal.
It also marked the first time in 11 games against the Canadiens the Bruins opened the scoring.
But the lead lasted just under 18 minutes before the Canadiens tied it in the second, and from that point on the game was an entertaining, up-and-down contest with lots of hitting and scoring chances for both sides.
A few thousand Canadiens fans made the trip down to Boston to take in the game and continued booing Zdeno Chara every time he touched the puck, leading the hometown faithful to cheer in response. The result was random, distracting noise from the sellout TD Banknorth Centre crowd of 17,565 every time Chara touched it.
Referees Bill McCreary and Greg Kimmerly called a penalty on each team within the first 2:12 of play, but that didn't stop the Bruins and Canadiens from taking repeated runs at each other. Lucic led the charge for the Bruins, punishing the Habs defencemen on the forecheck.
The Bruins, much like in Game 2, came out of the gate determined to take control of the game, and their efforts were rewarded when Lucic got his first career playoff goal at 6:30 of the first. Savard beat Josh Gorges to a puck on the side boards and fed it into the slot to a wide open Lucic, who wired a wrist shot to the top corner over Price's blocker.
Montreal got that goal back at 4:26 of the second when the Habs grind line went back to work. Steve Begin caused a turnover with a hit on Denis Wideman behind the Bruins net, Bryan Smolinski hit Andrew Ference and got the puck out front to Kostopoulos, who made no mistake for his team-leading second of the playoffs.
Price and Thomas each had to come up big several times before the end of regulation to send it into overtime, with Price making a couple of particularly nice glove grabs off Chara and Savard three minutes apart midway through the third.
Notes: Wideman was back in the lineup after missing Game 2 with what the Bruins called a "lower torso injury," but he wasn't back with his regular partner on defence Zdeno Chara. Chara remained with his Game 2 partner Aaron Ward, while Wideman played with Andrew Ference. ... Bruins winger Phil Kessel was a healthy scratch for a second straight game, while Andrew Alberts gave up his spot on defence to Wideman. ... The Canadiens have made no lineup changes through the first three games of the series.