Montreal still alive in series

Posted: Friday, April 16, 2004

BOSTON Montreal Canadiens goalie Jose Theodore was often overshadowed by Bruins counterpart Andrew Raycroft in the first four games of their first-round playoff series.

Theodore, a former NHL MVP, re-established himself on Thursday night as a player to watch.

Theodore made 43 saves, and Saku Koivu had a goal and two assists in helping the Canadiens stay alive with 5-1 victory over the Bruins. The Canadiens trail the best-of-seven series 3-2 and host Game 6 on Saturday night.

And Theodore is a big reason why their season is still going as he turned aside Boston's relentless pressure for the first 15 minutes.

''We all knew they were going to come out really strong, and they did that,'' Theodore said. ''They had the momentum, they were throwing the hits, and they were getting a lot of shots.''

But it was the Canadiens who scored first, tallying on a quick counterattack at 14:17 of the first period. Jason Ward sent Yanic Perreault in alone, and his shot deflected off of Raycroft's pads and inside the far post.

''In the first 15 minutes of the first period, Jose made some key saves and Yanic came up big,'' said Koivu, who had a hand in both of Montreal's power-play goals.

He scored on a rebound at 8:44 of the third period to make it 4-1 when the Canadiens had a two-man advantage. Koivu also assisted on Craig Rivet's power-play goal at 6:34 of the third that made it 5-1.

Rivet beat Raycroft with a long slap shot.

''I don't think we were there mentally,'' Raycroft said.

The Bruins continued to struggle with the man advantage, going 0-for-4 on Thursday and 2-for-22 for the series.

''Our line had its chances, we just weren't finding the net,'' said leading scorer Joe Thornton, who doesn't have a point in the series.

The Canadiens took a 2-0 lead at 12:21 of the second period on a three-on-two break. Richard Zednik won the puck at center ice and passed to Koivu on his left. Koivu then made a cross-ice pass to Alex Kovalev, who scored his fourth goal of the series.

Kovalev was the goat in Game 4, when after he was slashed in the second overtime he stopped playing and shook his injured wrist. He turned over the puck and then collided with teammate Sheldon Souray, which allowed Glen Murray to skate in on a breakaway and score the winning goal.

''I thought he played a really strong game except for that last play,'' Koivu said of Kovalev's Game 4 performance. ''To get the winning goal tonight takes some of the pressure of him.''

Kovalev seemed reluctant to talk about the Canadiens' previous loss.

''All I had to do was put in the same effort as the first four games and things would start happening for me,'' he said. ''One thing we wanted to do was stay focused and keep the pressure on them after we went up 2-0.''

The Canadiens almost made it 3-0 Thursday when Raycroft was caught out of position. Pierre Dagenais had a clean shot at an empty net, but Bruins forward Sergei Samsonov threw himself in front of the puck and it deflected off his body.

Zednik eventually gave Montreal a three-goal advantage at 16:35 of the third period, just after the Bruins killed off a four-minute power play. Zednik took advantage of a turnover in the Bruins zone, skated in alone with Thornton clutching his jersey and backhanded the puck past Raycroft.

The Bruins finally broke through at 11:37 of the third when Nick Boynton found Murray to the right of the Montreal net and Murray slapped a shot into the open net.

Red Wings 4, Predators 1

DETROIT Pavel Datsyuk's dazzling passes set up two goals before seven minutes elapsed and Detroit beat Nashville to take a 3-2 series lead.

The home team has won each game in the first-round, best-of-seven series and the Predators hope to keep up the trend in Game 6 on Saturday in Nashville.

Henrik Zetterberg, Brett Hull and Brendan Shanahan scored in the first period for the Red Wings.

After Nicklas Lidstrom's power-play goal midway through the second period gave Detroit a 4-0 lead, Nashville's Sergei Zholtok scored on the power play with 37.2 seconds left in the period.

Detroit's Curtis Joseph made 19 saves in his first playoff start since the Red Wings were swept by Anaheim in the first round last season. Joseph, who has been hobbled with an ankle injury for much of the season, replaced Manny Legace.

Sharks 3, Blues 1

SAN JOSE, Calif. The San Jose Sharks' incredible regular season was no mistake. They're deep, fast and a little bit lucky and they're moving ahead in the playoffs.

Injury replacement Mark Smith scored his first NHL playoff goal and Evgeni Nabokov stopped 21 shots in the Sharks' series-clinching victory over St. Louis.

Mike Ricci got an insurance goal with 3:38 left, and Brad Stuart also scored as the second-seeded Sharks took the series 4-1, winning three games at the sold-out Shark Tank. They're the first team to advance to the conference semifinals, which probably won't begin for a week.

Brian Savage scored for the Blues, who have just two goals in their last four games in San Jose.

Flames 2, Canucks 1

VANCOUVER, British Columbia Jarome Iginla's third-period goal put Calgary within one win of reaching the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 15 years.

Calgary leads the best-of-seven series 3-2 with the Flames hosting Game 6 on Saturday. They have not won a playoff series since capturing the Stanley Cup in 1989.

Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff continued his domination over the Canucks, making 32 saves including 12 in the third period when the Flames had just two.

Craig Conroy added a power-play goal in the second period for the Flames. Henrik Sedin scored for Vancouver.

Alex Auld was the surprise starter in goal for the Canucks over Johan Hedberg and he made 18 saves.

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