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May 03. 2014 9:27PM

Bruins rally to tie series with Canadiens

The Boston Bruins celebrate a goal by right wing Reilly Smith (18) (middle) during the third period against the Montreal Canadiens in game two of the second round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Banknorth Garden. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

BOSTON - Three years ago, the Boston Bruins dropped the first two games of their first-round playoff series to the rival Montreal Canadiens at home.

They roared back, winning the series in seven games en route to the Stanley Cup.

On Saturday, the Bruins were just over nine minutes away from digging another 0-2 hole against the Habs, trailing by two goals. But as has been the case so often in this year's NHL playoffs - and for the second time in this series - the two-goal lead disappeared.

"When you're down two goals, you really don't have anywhere else to go," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said after a wild comeback gave the Bruins a 5-3 win to even the Eastern Conference semifinal. "Just, you've got to push for it, and that's what we did - and we were able to come back."

Down 3-1 after right winger/Bruins killer Tomas Vanek's second power-play goal of the game, 6:30 into the third period, the Bruins got goals from defenseman Dougie Hamilton, center Patrice Bergeron and right winger Reilly Smith in a 5:32 span to pull it out. Left winger Milan Lucic hit the empty net with 1:06 left, capping a third-period rally by a team that's been great in the third all year.

"We know we are capable of doing that, but I don't think that we want to be in that position every time we go into the third," said Chara, who assisted on the winner and was a plus-five on the day.

The Bruins, who rallied from down 2-0 in the first game before losing in double overtime, made it tough on themselves on Saturday, which quieted TD Garden. But Hamilton scored off a pass from center Patrice Bergeron and Bergeron then scored from the right boards - the first three goals deflecting off Montreal defensemen (two off Francis Bouillon) and past Carey Price.

Price stole the first game with 48 saves and then became the loser when Smith scored his second goal of the series, with 3:32 remaining, giving Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask his first home win in 10 career home games against the Canadiens.

It was the first loss in six playoff games for Price and his team.

"It's just a couple of breakdowns," Montreal captain Brian Gionta said. "We've got to find ways, when we have the lead, to finish it off."

Said defenseman P.K. Subban, the Game 1 hero who had two assists on Saturday: "We have to manage the puck better and do smarter things out there. Nine minutes left in the game, we have to shut it down."

Vanek scored both goals on deflections - one a pass, the other a shot - from Subban in the second and third periods. They were his 31st and 32nd goals in 57 career games, 16 coming on the power play.

Left winger Brad Marchand, who coughed up the puck for the first Montreal goal, assisted on the first two goals in the late rally, with Bergeron assisting on Hamilton's goal before tying it with a deflection off Bouillon.

"They outplayed us for more than half the game, so we've got to be better," Bergeron said.

Bruins left winger Daniel Paille gave his team a 1-0 first-period lead, but defenseman Mike Weaver got that goal back for the Canadiens early in the second.

Vanek scored his team's third and fourth power-play goals of the two games, against a Bruins penalty-killing unit that was 18-for-20 in the first round against the Detroit Red Wings.

The first scoring chance of the day belonged to Boston right winger Shawn Thornton, who rang a shot off the crossbar 3 1/2 minutes into the game. Later, he limped off after suffering an apparent knee injury trying to hit Subban. Thornton thought Subban "ducked" under the hit and was clearly upset as he was helped off. He returned and said Subban later apologized, even though it appeared Subban fell on his short follow-through.

The Bruins had a goal disallowed with 4:36 left in the second period when Lucic gloved the puck into the net. It was called a goal on the ice but was overturned upon quick review.

Games 3 and 4 are in Montreal Tuesday and Thursday nights.NOTES: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who was at the game, became the latest to denounce the racist Twitter attack absorbed by Montreal D P.K. Subban after his Game 1 double-overtime winner. "I fully endorse and support the comment that (Boston president) Cam Neely and the Bruins issued," Bettman said of the release from the Bruins. "We are about diversity and inclusiveness. We condemn bias and hatred. It has no place in our game and is not acceptable." ... Lineup changes for Game 2 saw Montreal LW Michael Bournival replace LW Travis Moen and Boston RW Jordan Caron replace LW Justin Florek. ... Former Bruins player and coach Terry O'Reilly was the team's flag captain for Game 2. ... G Carey Price played his 36th playoff game for Montreal, moving into sole possession of sixth place on the team's career list.

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