Given up for dead just six days ago, the Boston Bruins have erased the memory of two less-than-inspiring efforts in the first two games by posting two huge wins in Montreal. The Bruins’ 5-4 overtime victory on Thursday night evened their first-round series against the hated Habs at two games apiece, and Boston returns to the Garden for Saturday’s Game 5 with a boatload of momentum.
And who plays the role of hero in Thursday’s comeback win? None other than Michael Ryder — who had been given up for dead himself. Ryder limped into the postseason having registered three points in his final 10 regular-season games and hadn’t scored a goal since February 27. He had also flat-lined through the first three games of the Bruins-Canadiens series, posting zero points and just three shots on net.
But on Thursday night, Ryder made both of his shots count. His first goal, at 3:12 of the second period, evened the score at 1-1 in a boisterous Bell Centre. His second, just 1:59 into overtime, capped a huge comeback and puts the B’s back in the driver’s seat.
Sure the series is tied but you have to believe that the Canadiens’ confidence is shaken and they realize they lost a golden opportunity to put the Bruins away. Montreal couldn’t have asked for a better situation than heading back home with a 2-0 series lead, but the Bruins have kicked the door back open.
It ought to be an interesting trip back to Montreal, especially after Andrew Ference showed his love for Canadiens fans — a gesture that cost him $2,500.
Admit it: After the way things started for Jermaine O’Neal this season, you had no reason to believe he’d be any more useful than a ball bag come playoff time. But there he is, averaging 7 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3 blocks per game through the first two games of the Celtics-Knicks series. He had 12 points and four blocks in Game 1, and took a huge charge against Amar’e Stoudamire in the closing minutes to help seal the deal.
At least one of the O’Neals is showing a pulse. Shaquille has made the trip to New York, but won’t play tonight, although Sunday’s Game 4 is a possibility. Then again, maybe not. Calf and Achilles tendon issues have limited Shaq to 5½ minutes since Feb. 1 …
I got pinched for stealing a pen from the local department store when I was a kid. Not one of my prouder moments. But I can’t for the life of me figure out why a major leaguer making $425,000 a year would shoplift $59.88 worth of shirts.
Leake hasn’t commented other than apologizing “for this distraction,” but at least one Reds fans (right) certainly seemed to have some fun at his expense on Thursday. …
Poor Carl Crawford. The Red Sox have won five of their last six games, Josh Beckett has been outstanding in his last three starts, and Adrian Gonzalez has already proven to be a pretty prolific clutch hitter. But somehow talk always circles back to Boston’s’ struggling left fielder, who is wilting under the white-hot glare of the spotlight that accompanies a seven-year, $142 million contract.
Entering Friday’s game against the Angels, Crawford was hitting .143 with 0 homers and 3 RBIs, 13 strikeouts in 70 at-bats and just two extra-base hits and three steals. Crawford’s replacement in Tampa Bay, Durham, NH, native Sam Fuld, is hitting .348 with 6 doubles, a triple, a homer, 7 RBIs, and 7 stolen bases. And, oh, he’s making $418,300 this year.