MONTREAL — The Boston Bruins took a seemingly insurmountable 3-0 lead in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with the Montreal Canadiens by winning Game 3, 4-2, tonight at Bell Centre.
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Former Montreal forward Michael Ryder, who signed with Boston as a free agent last summer, buried the game-winner with just 2:39 remaining in the second period. A year ago, Ryder was with the Habs as they knocked off the Bruins in seven games in the first round and then lost in the second round. But he spent part of the postseason in the press box, and when he was in uniform he was used sparingly.
Despite his bitter departure, Ryder claimed after the game tonight the opponent in front of him didn’t make the goal any sweeter.
“It’s just a game now and we’re trying to win. Even though it’s my old team, it’s behind me now …” said Ryder, who also scored a big goal in the Bruins’ 5-1 win in Game 2. “It’s a good feeling to get the win and just happens to be we’re playing against Montreal now. Being on the other side was a little different at first, but I’m here now and I’m a Bruin and it’s good to be here.”
The suspension of Milan Lucic meant that Ryder and his usual center David Krejci were reunited on a line with Blake Wheeler. That trio dominated the league from the end of November through the better part of the next couple months. Wathching them buzz around — they totaled five shots on net — made it seem like January again.
“We played together for the majority of the year and we got a good feel for each other. So Wheels stepping in there was pretty much the same,” said Ryder.
When Ryder scored the goal, Shawn Thornton was on the ice instead of Wheeler. The celebration involved the burly winger picking up the offensive hero in the corner.
“Obviously we were excited,” said Ryder.
The excitment will reach a higher level if the Bruins can close out the series in Game 4 Wednesday.