With a possible three-games-to-one series deficit staring them straight in the face, the Boston Bruins defeated the Montreal Canadiens in overtime, earning a 1-0 Game 4 win at the Bell Centre.
Matt Fraser, who was just re-called from Providence prior to the game, instantaneously proved to be a major difference-maker. Just 1:19 into overtime, Fraser netted the game-winning goal, tying the Bruins best-of-seven series at two before heading back to Boston for Game 5 on Saturday night.
The 23-year-old Fraser, who was acquired in the offseason from Dallas, showed his true value and potential on the goal. After a furious scramble in front of Carey Price, Fraser beat Montreal’s covering defenseman to the near post and stuffed home a Carl Soderberg rebound.
“The puck got to the net and it was bobbling in front. I just tried to sniff it out and whack it in,” said Fraser following the game.
One player the Bruins were in desperate need to have a big game was Tuukka Rask, and did he ever. Rask was dynamite. He turned aside all 33 shots thrown his way. In victory, Rask earned his fifth career postseason shutout.
Price was equally effective for the Canadiens. He faced 35 shots and saved 34 of them.
But this was a game marked by defensive intensity and physicality. The Bruins did not sit back like they had done in Game 3. They matched Montreal, finishing checks, working pucks in deep, while playing a more focused Bruins’ style of hockey.
Boston even delivered the big blows when they had too. Max Pacioretty found himself on the receiving end of some crushing hits. He was visibly shaken up and lacked effectiveness. Zdeno Chara punished Thomas Vanek at every opportunity as well.
Claude Julien‘s minor lineup tweaks paid off. Re-inserting Matt Bartkowski, who played a solid game along the backend, and the call up of Fraser worked out tremendously. Fraser showed grit, heart and determination all game.
In getting back to the basics, sticking to the system, avoiding a poor start and having faith in themselves in Game 4, the Bruins now have a prime opportunity to regain control of the series on Saturday.