Bruins 4 Canadiens 2
MONTREAL — Michael Ryder won’t use words like payback, revenge or even “I told you so” when he scores against the Montreal Canadiens.
Not even after getting the game-winning goal against his former team Monday night to break a 2-2 tie and lift the rival Boston Bruins to a 4-2 win and a 3-0 stranglehold in their NHL Eastern Conference playoff series.
Boston can close out the best-of-seven series and move on to the second round with a win Wednesday in Game 4 at the Bell Centre.
“I don’t know, I just try to work hard and play my game,” Ryder said, looking innocent as possible after his game-winner. “It was a big win for us.
“My goal was just a rebound goal and it ended up being the winner.”
Phil Kessel, Shawn Thornton and Chuck Kobasew, into an empty net, also scored for the Bruins, the top seed in the East.
Rookie defenceman Yannick Weber had a goal and an assist and Chris Higgins also scored for the injury-plagued Canadiens, who learned before the game they would be without veterans Alex Tanguay and Mathieu Schneider due to upper body injuries.
Boston was outskated by Montreal through the first half of the game before taking over midway through the second period. The Bruins did not appear to miss suspended forward Milan Lucic.
Ryder was a healthy scratch in last year’s playoffs under former Habs coach Guy Carbonneau as Montreal beat Boston in the opening round. It was a dismal season for the native of Bonavista, N.L., in he slumped to 14 goals after scoring 30 in each of the previous two campaigns.
He signed as a free agent with Boston last summer after Montreal failed to make him a contract offer and, reunited with coach Claude Julien, he bounced back with a 26 regular-season goals.
Ryder played for Julien both in junior hockey with the Hull Olympiques and in Montreal before Julien was fired in 2006.
“I knew I could play,” said Ryder. “I never lost it.
“It was just getting the opportunity again.”
His coach agreed.
“Good for him to come in here and showcase what he can do,” said Julien. “I knew him, but it’s not for the coach to tell an organization which guys to sign.
“But before last year, he scored 25 to 30 goals a year. We knew he could bounce back. And with our style of play, he seemed like a guy who could fit in.”
Only two teams have ever come back from an 0-3 deficit in playoff history — the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and the 1975 New York Islanders. It is the 10th time Montreal has lost the first three games of a series.
With elimination looking imminent, coach and general manager Bob Gainey hinted that drastic measures may be taken for Game 4 and that even injured veterans Andrei Markov and Robert Lang could return. Neither has played in the series.
Lang has been out since early February with a severed Achilles tendon and was not expected back until at least the second round of playoffs. Markov missed the final four games of the regular season with an undisclosed injury. Both have been skating of late, but not with their teammates.
“All our players are on skates now and we know what the game represents, so we will be re-evaluating everyone,” said Gainey. “It’s the worst situation and the best challenge.
“We’d rather not be in this situation. We came in looking for a win and we didn’t get one.”