There will be a Game 6.
The Bruins made sure of that when they failed miserably in their bid to eliminate the Montreal Canadiens from the postseason last night, giving up a series-high five goals in a 5-1 loss at the FleetCenter.
The best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal matchup switches back to the Bell Centre tomorrow night with Boston holding a three games to two lead.
Instead of showing a killer instinct, the Bruins invited the Habs back into the series with their lack of discipline, atrocious power-play execution (0 for 4), and poor decision-making.
The Bruins came out strong enough but as the game went along, they got worse. Their passes weren't crisp, they turned over the puck on too many occasions, and ultimately lost their composure.
"I thought we came out hard and established our play early," said coach Mike Sullivan. "But as the game wore on, I thought we lost our discipline. We lost discipline with penalties but also with our team play. When you play playoff hockey and you play quality opponents, if you don't play with a sense of purpose out there, you're going to get beat, and we didn't play with any sense of purpose. The stakes have never been higher and it's disappointing. But we've got to respond. We have to move on. It's a hard lesson."
The Canadiens scored first at 5:43 of the first period, compliments of Yanic Perreault, who was playing in his third of the five postseason games. In the second period, Alexei Kovalev, the goat in Game 4, gave his club a two-goal lead at 7:39. The replay clearly showed that Saku Koivu was offside on the rush but no call was made. Koivu took a pass from Richard Zednik and dished it to Kovalev, whose wrister from the right circle eluded goalie Andrew Raycroft, and the Bruins were in a hole.
"He was offside," said Sullivan. "The referees are going to call it the way they see it."
The Bruins got into penalty trouble with less than a minute left in the second when captain Joe Thornton was whistled off for four minutes. Montreal defenseman Craig Rivet cross-checked Thornton into Jose Theodore but Thornton was whistled off for goaltender interference. After jousting with defenseman Andrei Markov, Thornton punched him in the face and had two minutes tacked on for roughing.
The Bruins managed to kill off the penalties, including 3:08 to start the third, but gave up an even-strength goal at 3:25. In one of the more bizarre plays in the series, Thornton got his stick yanked out of his hands by the legs of a linesman who had jumped onto the dasher to avoid interfering with the play. Zednik got the puck and although Thornton tried to chase him without his stick, Zednik scored to make it 3-0.
At 8:23, Boston finally got on the board when Glen Murray scored, but it was too little, too late.
It only got worse. At 9:44, Travis Green was called for interference and Sergei Gonchar joined him in the box for high-sticking at 11:11, giving the Habs a two-man advantage for 33 seconds. Just five seconds into the five-on-three, Koivu scored to give Montreal back its three-goal lead, beating Raycroft off a rebound at the right post.
Thornton went back to the box at 11:33 for roughing, giving Montreal another five-on-three. They killed the two-man portion but surrendered a five-on-four goal by Rivet at 13:26. In all, it was a forgettable night for the Black and Gold, who gave the Habs six power plays, and they scored on two. Thornton said part of it was frustration.
"When it was 3-1, we tried to get more physical on them and we just weren't using our heads as much as we should be," he said. "We just have to get better in that aspect. We know they're going to dive a little bit out there and I think the refs know it, too, so we have to keep our heads up on that stuff."
Sullivan promised they would regroup.
"I don't think we were thorough, we didn't think defense first, we cheated in the critical areas of the ice, and you can't play that way and be successful," said the coach. "We have to refocus. We have to learn from it, put it behind us, and move on. We're a good hockey team and we have good players and we have a clear understanding of how we have to play in order to win. When we get away from it, we're an average team, and it's as simple as that."