MONTREAL - It's a final here. The third period was a real nail-biter for Bruins' fans but the team has hung on to win, 4-2, at the Bell Centre and close the gap to 2-1 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal. Game 4 is here Thursday night.
With 25.6 seconds remaining, Chris Kelly sealed the victory with an empty-net goal.
Tim Thomas gagged up the first two goals. But Thomas was at his best in the final five minutes.
"He made some big saves," said coach Claude Julien. "The fact that he was able to do that shows a lot of character. There's no doubt he'd like to have those two goals that went in on him. A goaltender could have just had negative thoughts in his mind and not been sharp at the end. But for him to do what he did meant that he was willing to redeem himself and give us the big saves. He did that. They were huge."
* Zdeno Chara logged a game-high 26:20. Chara had two shots, three hits, and three blocked shots. Chara played most of the game with Dennis Seidenberg. He had previously been paired with Johnny Boychuk.
"He makes a huge difference," said Thomas. "He's one of the most important players, if the most important player, on this team. He's one of, if not the best, defensemen in the league. It's harder to play without him. Last game, we all wanted to step up for him. We were unable to get it done. But it was nice to see him back. He's such a big part of our team."
* The Bruins are busing to Lake Placid, N.Y. They will use Lake Placid as base camp today (Tuesday) and tomorrow. Players who dressed last night will not skate today. There will be a full practice tomorrow. The rink is closed to the public.
3d period - 15:45 - Boston 3, Montreal 2 - The Canadiens are pressuring like crazy but the Bruins are hanging on.
3d period - 4:44 - Boston 3, Montreal 2 - Andrei Kostitsyn has been whistled off for slashing. Bruins are on the power play.
3d period - Boston 3, Montreal 2 - Tomas Plekanec has closed the gap to a goal. Plekanec beat Tim Thomas on a forehander from deep in the right circle that found an opening through the five hole.
3d period - 3:45 - Boston 3, Montreal 1 - The Canadiens are putting on a real push at the start of this period but so far, Tim Thomas has held them at bay.
2d period - 20:00 - Boston 3, Montreal 1 - The Bruins will take a two-goal lead into the third period. They need another 20 minutes of solid effort to pull to within a game of tying the quarterfinal series.
2d period - 17:55 - Boston 3, Montreal 1 - Mark Recchi has been called for holding. The Habs are on the power play.
2d period - 7:03 - Boston 3, Montreal 1 - The Canadiens have broken through. Andrei Kostitsyn has put his team on the board, cutting the deficit to a pair of goals.
2d period - 3:04 - Boston 3, Montreal 0 - The Canadiens have been caught with too many men on the ice. Boston is on the power play again.
2d period - 2:02 - Boston 3, Montreal 0 - Rich Peverley has given the Bruins a commanding lead. Peverley took advantage of a Carey Price miscue and made the goaltender pay.
1st period - 20:00 - Boston 2, Montreal 0 - Benoit Pouliot charged Johnny Boychuk with 3 seconds left in the period and Andrew Ference dropped the gloves with Pouliot as a result. Ference and Pouliot were assessed fighting majors and Pouliot earned an extra two for the charge, putting Boston back on the power play. When the second period starts, the Bruins will have 1:57 remaining on the man advantage.
1st period - 14:38 - Boston 2, Montreal 0 - Nathan Horton has potted his first career playoff goal. Horton, who was along the left side of the goal line, flipped a forehander that banked off the right leg of goalie Carey Price and in.
1st period - 12:12 - Boston 1, Montreal 0 - Well, that power play didn't last long. Patrice Bergeron has been called for interference, making it a four-on-four situation.
1st period - 11:21 - Boston 1, Montreal 0 - Scott Gomez has been called for interference. The Bruins are on the power play, which hasn't been an asset to this point in the series.
1st period - 7:27 - Boston 1, Montreal 0 - David Krejci has been called for hooking. Montreal is back on the power play.
1st period - 3:11 - Boston 1, Montreal 0 - The Bruins got the start they wanted, finally getting the lead for the first time in the three games. David Krejci ended his offensive drought by beating goalie Carey Price from the slot, taking a pass from Patrice Bergeron. Dennis Seidenberg took advantage of a turnover by Montreal defenseman Roman Hamrlik to start the play.
1st period - 1:08 - Boston 0, Montreal 0 - The Bruins have been called for too many men on the ice. Milan Lucic is serving the penalty.
1st period - 1:00 - Boston 0, Montreal 0 - We are underway at the Bell Centre. Bruins need to start strong here.