MONTREAL -- Michael Ryder, a forgotten man in the Boston offense in the final days of the regular season, banged home two goals here tonight, including the game-winner with 1:59 gone in overtime, leading the Bruins to a 5-4 triumph over the Canadiens and evening the best-of-seven playoff series at two wins apiece.
''Kells threw it out there,'' said Ryder, noting how linemate Chris Kelly fed him with a cross-slot pass for the winner. ''I guess he saw me. I think [Carey] Price was caught trying to get back to his post, and I just threw it in.''
Tim Thomas, who finished with 34 saves in the Boston net for the win, admitted the Bruins would have been in dire straights if they lost here and fell to a 3-1 deficit in the series.
''It would have been really tough to win this series if we lost here tonight,'' noted the veteran backstop. ''Having said that, there is still a lot of work to do.''
The clubs resume the series Saturday night on Causeway Street. Faceoff for Game 5: 7 p.m.
Power play continues to sputter
The Bruins remain in need of finding a power-play remedy. They went a league-worst 0-for-11 in the first three games of the series and were blanked one one try here tonight.
Boston's only chance on the power-play came in the first period and it wasn't much of a power play. No shots.
The first unit had David Krejci center Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic, with Tomas Kaberle and Zdeno Chara the points. Unit No. 2 had Rich Peverley between Mark Recchi and Patrice Bergeron, with Andrew Ference and Dennis Seidenberg up high.
The Lucic-Krejci-Horton line did next to nothing all night. They finished without a point and managed only five shots on net. Lucic didn't so much as attempt a shot.
Devil in the details
The last time the Bruins opened a playoff series at home with back-to-back losses, 1995, they faced the Devils in Round 1. The Devils blanked them, 5-0 and 3-0, on Causeway street, and then the Bruins took Game 3, 3-2, at Exit 16W.
The Devs then blanked the Bruins again, 1-0, in Game 4 and then finished it off at the Garden, 6-3, in Game 5. Cam Neely scored two of Boston's five goals in the series.
Ference one-spoked salute
Andrew Ference nailed in Boston's second goal, cutting Montreal's lead to 3-2 at the 9:59 mark of the second period. Slow-motion replay showed the Boston blueliner looking toward the crowd immediately after the goal, raising his left hand and sticking out his middle finger, the kind of sign language more common in the NBA or drunken frat parties.
Poor conduct by the veteran defenseman. Could be facing a fine.
''I can assure you it's not part of my repertoire,'' said Ference. ''It's not who I am or who I will be.''
Julien slow to call timeout
Curious that Boston coach Claude Julien did not call for a time out at the 6:52 mark of the second period after Mike Cammalleri's srike broke a 1-1 tie. The goal came with the Bruins in total disarray, despite having defenseman Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg on the ice with the surehanded likes of Danny Paille, Greg Campbell and Shawn Thornton.
A timeout by the coach might have allowed the Boston bench to stablize. But Julien did not call for the break, the Canadiens kept up the heat, and only 55 seconds later Andrei Kostitsyn nailed in the 3-1 lead.
And then Julien called the timeout, his club two goals in arrears.
''They scored two quick goals and obviously they were building momentum,'' Julien said when asked what he told him team during the timeout at 3-1. ''I told them to relax, that we still had a half a game to play.''
Kelly on the case
Chris Kelly, playing with a full cage after smacking his face into the right post post in Game 3, potted the 4-4 equalizer tonight with 6:18 remaining in regulation. The strike was set up nicely by Ryder, who zipped a pass into the crease as he raced behind the goal line. Wtih help from Rich Peverley, the came to rest at the top of the crease, between the skates of Brent Sopel, and the alert Kelly popped it by Price for the goal that forced OT.
Ryder also scored on a wrister, set up nicely by a Tomas Kaberle pass, early in the second. Ryder can be a valuable asset when he's moving his feet, but he too often lapses into float mode.
Richard heats up crowd
The night began with Habs legend Henri Richard carrying a torch to the sideboards, center ice, and handing it to a youngster to take it for a twirl around the ice. The sellout crowd immediately reached playoff fever pitch as the young kid, dressed in Richard's No. 16 sweater, tooled around the sheet.
The Bruins left the Bell Centre promptly and boarded their charter flight back to Logan. They are scheduled for a noon workout Friday at the Garden, but it's likely only the scrubs will get out on the ice.
Back here on Tuesday
Game 6 will be here at the on Tuesday. A seventh game, if necessary, will be back on Causeway Street Wednesday eve. If the series were to go seven games, Round 2 likely would not begin until Saturday. The league would not ask either team to play three nights in a row.