At one point in time, Alex Kovalev was looking like the goat on the ice for taking an unnecessary penalty that led to the overtime-forcing goal...and at another point in time, Alex Kovalev was the hero, slapping home the overtime winner.
Another raucus crowd gathered and filled out the 21, 273 capacity Bell Centre for a vintage Hockey Night in Canada event, as the Canadiens looked to extend their 1-0 series lead vs. the Boston Bruins.
After coming out and getting dominated in game 1, Boston turned the tables and came out on fire in the first period of game 2 Saturday night, laying the body on Habs players every single opportunity they got. The Bruins in the process generated quality scoring chances for themselves, something seen so rarely in game 1.
Boston would not score in the first, but Montreal would, thankfully capitalizing on one of their few chances allotted to them by the Bruins. Roman Hamrlik took a drop-pass on a 3-on-2 rush from Bryan Smolinski and moved in closer before wiring a low slapshot that fooled Thomas low-glove side.
The second period was more about Montreal, as they were the team coming out gunning. Unlike the Bruins, their efforts would be rewarded in the period, and early, as Sergei Kostitsyn notched his 2nd is as many career postseason games, cleaning up a Brisebois rebound that was initially created from a great individual effort by the magician himself, Alex Kovalev, just 1:50 in.
Trailing 2-0 to start the third, Boston would once again find the energy they had to start the game, and this time they would be rewarded for it...in a big way.
Peter Schaefer needed just 3:58 of the "final" frame to get the B's on the board, crashing the net and one-timing a Petteri Nokelainen wrist-shot rebound past Carey Price. The goal came shortly after Andrei Kostitsyn failed to convert on a clear-cut breakaway with the Bruins D activating and joining the rush dangerously.
The Bruins would enjoy their highest margin of dominance in the period, outshooting Montreal 11-4.
Alex Kovalev would also have a breakaway, but the result of it was much worse than Andrei Kostitsyn's.
Kovalev, clear-cut in on goal as well, came in on an angle, moved to the backhand, and missed with the shot completely, sending the puck of the end-glass. As he rushed to recover the puck, he would be taken down by a Bruins defender. Upset by the type of check served to him, Kovalev would get to his knees and would proceed to slash the Bruins defensemen in the leg; However, the gesture failed to go un-noticed, and Kovy was assessed a 2 minute minor.
On the ensuing powerplay, David Krejci would convert a pretty passing play set up by Marc Savard and Marco Sturm to knot the game at 2 - a feat the Bruins hadn't accomplished in game 1 since the match started at 0-0 for 34 seconds.
Two missed Habs breakaways + one bad penalty = Boston tying the game.
The Bruins and Habs would exchange powerplays without success before a crucial call was assessed to Boston late in the third.
Scott Thornton would be called for high-sticking on Tom Kostopoulos, with the incident enducing bloodspill from TK's face. The call would indeed be a 4-minute dounle-minor with 2:17 remaining in the third. The Habs would come oh so close on the powerplay, as they worked the puck around with one second left to Patrice Brisebois, who one-timed a blast that got by everyone and rang off the iron, with 0.1 left on the clock.
The penalty would carry over into overtime, and very late on the Thornton penalty, disaster would strike the Bruins in the form of another penalty; this one a tripping call on Jeremy Reich.
Thornton's penalty would expire before the Habs cashed in on Reich's penalty.
Tomas Plekanec won an offensive zone faceoff to Kovalev, who sent the puck back to Markov. Markov returned the feed to Kovalev, who was setting up across the ice (on his off-wing) from his favorite spot, atop the faceoff circle. Kovy would look around, and in a split second would decide to crank up and uncork a slapshot bomb, which caught Thomas' shoulder going down and had more than enough juice on it to continue its trajectory to the top corner, short side, sealing the deal amongst a thunderous roar from the 21, 273 at the Bell Centre - one of which accounted for my presence. The goal was Montreal's first PP marker in the series; they are now 1-for-14.
Carey Price was nothing short of stellar once again, making 37 saves in the win. Tim Thomas had 28 saves.
Game 3 goes tonight in Boston, while game 4 goes Tuesday in Boston as well.