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Boston still leads series, 3-2

4/16/2004

BOSTON (AP) -- 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 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 a 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
Alexei Kovalev, who scored his fourth goal of the series.

Kovalev was the goat in Game 4: After he was slashed in the second overtime, he stopped playing and shook his injured wrist. He turned over the puck, 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 off 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.

"Everybody in this room is unhappy," Bruins forward Mike Knuble said. "It isn't just a loss, it's an embarrassment."

Game notes
The Canadiens played without D Stephane Quintal, who was
hurt in Game 4. ... The Bruins are 17-0 in playoff series they have
led 3-1. ... Fans loudly cheered the Canadian national anthem.
Canadiens fans were criticized after booing during the U.S. anthem
before Game 3.