Terrific third allows Habs to tie series

CanWest News Service
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NHL PLAYOFFS/ CANADIENS-PENGUINS

It would be an understatement to say the Montreal Canadiens didn't play their best hockey in the first two periods of Thursday's playoff game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

But a determined effort - and a couple of bounces - made the difference in the third period as the Canadiens rallied for a 3-2 victory. That tied the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal at 2-2 with Game 5 scheduled for the Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh Saturday night.

MONTREAL -

It would be an understatement to say the Montreal Canadiens didn't play their best hockey in the first two periods of Thursday's playoff game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

But a determined effort - and a couple of bounces - made the difference in the third period as the Canadiens rallied for a 3-2 victory. That tied the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal at 2-2 with Game 5 scheduled for the Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh Saturday night.

The Canadiens used a 94-second burst early in the third period to erase a 2-1 deficit.

This was a night for the role players to contribute on offence and Maxim Lapierre tied the score at 2-2 when he beat Marc-Andre Fleury on a wraparound at 2:07. Fleury made a stop on Mathieu Darche's wraparound attempt on the goalie's left side. Lapierre picked up the rebound and tried a similar move on the other side. Fleury attempted to cover up but Lapierre's shot caromed off the goalie's skate.

The bounces also went the Canadiens' way on the go-ahead goal by Brian Gionta. He was trying to find defenceman Roman Hamrlik on a backdoor play when his pass hit Penguins' defenceman Kris Letang and bounced past a surprised Fleury.

The Canadiens received another solid performance by Jaroslav Halak, who made 34 saves including a game-saver on an Evgeni Malkin breakaway with four minutes remaining.

Tom Pyatt, who assisted on the winning goal, opened the scoring but the lead didn't last very long.

Pyatt beat Fleury with a shot from the corner at 2:34 of the first period. Fleury, who had to worry about Travis Moen crashing the net, got a piece of the puck but it trickled across the goal-line.

The Canadiens didn't get any breaks as the tide turned quickly. Maxim Talbot tied the score at 3:27 when he picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and went to his backhand to beat Halak.

Chris Kunitz put the Penguins ahead with a power-play goal at 5:18. Kunitz fanned on a rebound in the slot but the puck caromed between his skate before beating Halak on the blocker side. The play went to the war room in Toronto to determine whether Kunitz had kicked the puck in but the original call stood, making it 2-1 Pittsburgh.

Organizations: Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins, NHL CANADIENS-PENGUINS Mellon Arena

Geographic location: Pittsburgh, MONTREAL, Toronto

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