THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

No lead was safe in this one

It seems Canadiens can’t stand prosperity

By Nancy Marrapese-Burrell
Globe Staff / April 22, 2011

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MONTREAL — It was there for the taking, but in the end, the Canadiens gave it away.

Michael Ryder scored at 1:59 of overtime, lifting the Bruins to a 5-4 victory last night at the Bell Centre and into a 2-2 tie in this first-round series as it moves back to Boston for Game 5 tomorrow night.

The Habs had leads of 1-0, 3-1, and 4-3, but the only lead that counted was the one the Bruins generated in OT.

Through four games, neither team has won at home.

“There are momentum swings, in the playoffs there are ups and downs,’’ said Canadiens defenseman Hal Gill. “You have to ride it and you have to realize when you need to climb down and be sharp and do the right thing.

“It comes down to making simple plays when you need to and winning those battles. It’s a fine line between getting that momentum and turning it over.’’

For most of the night, things looked destined to go the Canadiens’ way. They took a 1-0 lead at 8:13 of the first period on defenseman Brent Sopel’s goal. Ryder pulled Boston even at 2:13 of the second, but Michael Cammalleri and Andrei Kostitsyn scored 55 seconds apart to make it 3-1.

Boston battled back with tallies by Andrew Ference at 9:59 and Patrice Bergeron at 17:04 of the second, and it was knotted at 3-3 going into the third.

Defenseman P.K. Subban put the Habs back on top at 1:39 of the third, but the next two goals were Boston’s: Chris Kelly’s to tie at 13:42 and Ryder’s second one to end it.

“They’re a good team,’’ said Gill. “They have guys who are going to go out there and battle and they found a way to get us off our game at times and we made some mistakes.

“Those things are going to happen and they’re a good team and they’ll take advantage of them.’’

Gill said the Canadiens felt good about their game early on but then sloppiness began to creep in.

“We came out hard, and I think we got them on their heels,’’ he said. “We kind of gave them a little time to stand back up and come at us.

“That’s where we have to be better doing the little things that we were doing well in the beginning, pushing the pace and keeping that pace going.

“There are a lot of things going on, it’s not just one thing. We can’t sit here and pout. We have to get back to work and figure out what we’re doing and make sure we do it for 60.’’

Defenseman Jaroslav Spacek said the Canadiens just allowed the Bruins too much room to maneuver.

“I think it was our mistakes,’’ said Spacek, who finished the game a minus-2. “Maybe at home we tried to maybe do a little too much and we didn’t really protect the lead.’’

One area where the Bruins were better was in the neutral zone.

“I think we gave them a little too much space to skate and they took advantage of it,’’ said Spacek. “You’ve got to realize, they’ve got the good forwards, and I think we’ve got to put more pressure on them.

“We don’t want to make more mistakes than them. We did today and it cost us the game. They did a good job in not giving us the second and third chances like they did in Boston. We’ll see.

“Now it’s the best-of-three series. I think on the road will be a little different.’’

It’s guaranteed to go at least six games, which surprises no one.

“It’s going to be a battle,’’ said Gill. “We knew it was going to be a battle.’’

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at marrapese@globe.com.

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