BOSTON — As a child growing up in Newfoundland, Michael Ryder played goalie in ball hockey games until his father told him to come out of the net.
So when he found himself alone in the crease on Saturday night after Tim Thomas moved out to cut down the angle on a breakaway, Ryder’s instincts took over.
“They just made a pass in front and I knew Timmy was out of position,” the Bruins forward said. “I tried blocking any way I can, and ended up getting the glove on it.”
Ryder’s glove save in the first period helped preserve a scoreless game, and Boston went on to beat the Canadiens 2-1 in double overtime to take a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven first round playoff series. It was Boston’s third straight victory after losing the first two games of the series at home.
“You’re disappointed and you’re sad at the result, but I still think that there’s lots of positive from the game,” Montreal coach Jacques Martin said on Sunday. “It wasn’t like we sat back. We got behind, but we attacked. It’s the competition. We had some great opportunities in the overtime and we weren’t able to put it in.”
Game 6 is Tuesday night in Montreal, with a possible seventh game back in Boston on Wednesday. For the Bruins, a victory in either would be the first time in franchise history that they’ve won a series after losing the first two games.
Boston knows better than most that its opponent won’t quit; last year, the Bruins blew a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals against Philadelphia.
“We’ve just got to turn the page here and understand that there’s another full game to be played,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said Sunday. “When you win three in a row you should feel confident. But there’s a lot of work to be done. We know this next game’s going to be the toughest one. You’ve got a team playing for their lives, and they’re playing in their home building. So it’s a big challenge for us and we’re going to have to be our best.”
A year after their unprecedented collapse — they also led 3-0 in Game 7, at home — the Bruins hope to finish off the Canadiens and advance to the second round.
And it looks like they might have a chance, thanks to Ryder. The former Canadien scored the winning goal — his second of the game — 2 minutes into overtime of Game 4 on Thursday night to tie the series at two games apiece.
But in Game 5, Ryder did his best work in the net.
Michael Cammalleri brought the puck down the right side on a breakaway of a 0-0 game, drawing Thomas over and out to cut down the angle. Cammalleri took a shot that bounced out to Tomas Plekanec on the left side, with no one between him and the goal except Ryder.
He tried to wrist it into the net, but Ryder dropped to the ice and swiped up at the puck with his right hand, tipping it wide of the net.
“This is something that just shows some desperation. He knew where he was, he knew what he had to do and he just desperately made the move,” Julien said after the game. “And kudos to him for doing that. (It’s) certainly not something you practice, but desperation makes you do a lot of things.”
Thomas appreciated the help.
“That was awesome,” he said. “I was actually turned around, I got to watch it pretty good. That was a huge save, and in this type of game that’s a game-breaker.”
Ryder isn’t the only one helping out in goal.
With 6 minutes left in the first overtime, defenseman Zdeno Chara deflected a shot by Cammalleri that was headed for an open net.
“It was a team effort,” Thomas said. “Ryder made a save with an open net and Zdeno made a save with an open net. It’s everybody together. If a bounce went the other way, we’d be saying Carey (Price) stole the game right now, but that’s not necessarily completely the case. I just try to do my part.”
And Tim Thomas, who has played well enough to keep the Bruins in every game of the series, showed the form that made him a Vezina Trophy finalist on Saturday. He had 44 saves in Game 5, one of them at the 5:34 mark of the second overtime when he stretched out his left pad to deny Brian Gionta the game-winner.
Nathan Horton scored 3½ minutes later to end it.
“That was huge for us,” Horton said. “That was a big lift. He’s been doing that all year, and what a special goaltender he is. That definitely gave us a big lift and gave us a little bit more momentum to carry on after that.”
AP freelancer Sean Farrell contributed to this story from Brossard, Quebec.