Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley, Michael Ryder

Michael Ryder powers Bruins’ OT comeback, Boston ties series 2-2

There’s an old saying that a playoff series doesn’t begin until a team wins on the road.

This Montreal Canadiens-Boston Bruins series is flipping that theory on its head, as both teams are undefeated away from their friendly confines. Then again, maybe former Habs forward Michael Ryder just thinks he’s still at home at the Bell Centre, considering the fact that he buried his old team tonight. Ryder scored two goals, including the game winner, to give the Bruins an unlikely OT win and a 2-2 series tie.

Ryder also had an assist in the game as the Bruins continued this week’s exciting trend of comeback victories.

Boston 5, Montreal 4 (OT); Series tied at 2-2

The Habs will look back at Game 4 as a serious missed opportunity. They held three leads in this game, but couldn’t hold on any of those times.

This week’s trend of wild second periods continues.

The Canadiens carried a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, but yet another wacky second period made instant commentary a risky proposition. Ryder tied it 1-1 two minutes in, but Michael Cammalleri and Andrei Kostitsyn scored less than a minute apart to make it 3-1 Montreal. Like the Sharks and the Capitals, the Bruins wouldn’t just roll over; they ended up tying it 3-3 after Andrew Ference’s bird-flipping goal and a Patrice Bergeron tally.

Bruins won’t be denied in third period and overtime.

P.K. Subban showed why he’s getting so much attention by scoring a beautiful early third period goal to give Montreal a 4-3 lead, but the Bruins just wouldn’t go away. Despite playing with a full cage for the first time since his teenage years, Chris Kelly came through in a big way for his team by scoring the game-tying goal. Check it out in the video below.

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Kelly also made a nice pass to set up Ryder’s overtime game-winner, which came about two minutes into the OT period. It was a great night for the line of Ryder, Kelly and Rich Peverley overall. Ryder had two goals and one assist, Kelly had a goal and two assists and Peverley had two helpers himself.

That’s not bad for two guys who just joined the team via trades (Kelly and Peverley) plus one winger who regularly finds himself in the doghouse (Ryder). Watch the game-winner below.

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While the Canadiens will look back at this game with serious regrets, there were some great individual outputs. Michael Cammalleri continues to be an outstanding playoff performer for the Habs, as he scored a goal and two assists. Cammalleri has seven points in his last three games, with at least two in each.

Both goalies had their fair share of highs and lows, with Tim Thomas stopping 34 out of 38 shots while Carey Price made 30 out of 35 saves.

The impact on both teams

The Bruins go back to Boston with a hard-fought 2-2 tie, but this is no time to relax. Losing another game at home would force them to win two straight games, including another tough one in Montreal. They can’t assume their road hardiness will last forever.

Some might wonder if the Habs can bounce back, but they showed plenty of moxie when their backs were up against the wall in 2010. They had a great opportunity to at get to three wins with two chances at home, but one road win puts them in the driver’s seat once again.

If you were hoping for a dramatic series, then the first four games have delivered in a big way. It’ll be interesting to see which team will last laugh in this hate-filled best-of-7.

Stanley Cup Final referees: McCauley, O’Halloran, O’Rourke, Sutherland

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 13:  Referee Dan O'Halloran #13 holds up a face-off between the Buffalo Sabres and the Ottawa Senators during their NHL game at First Niagara Center on December 13, 2011 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Dave Sandford Getty Images)
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From the NHL:

refs

Pretty veteran crew, including three returnees from last year’s final.

Per the NHL, O’Halloran and O’Rourke will call tonight’s series opener from Consol.

After advancing to Cup final, DeBoer had Sharks fans coming up to him with ‘tears in their eyes’

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 29: Head coach Peter DeBoer addresses the media during the NHL Stanley Cup Final Media Day at Consol Energy Center on May 29, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH — When Pete DeBoer was hired to coach the San Jose Sharks, he wasn’t totally cognizant of how much heartbreak the fan base had experienced throughout the years.

Now he knows.

“First year in the community, I didn’t realize kind of the baggage that was carried around,” DeBoer said this morning ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. “Twenty-five-year season-ticket holders coming up to you with tears in their eyes and crying.”

The Sharks, of course, have never been this far in the playoffs. Prior to this year, they’d made it three times to the Western Conference Final, losing each time.

More painful were the first-round exits. Like in 2009 when they won the Presidents’ Trophy and got knocked out by the Ducks, and two years ago when they led the Kings 3-0 before dropping four straight.

It was only after the Sharks beat the Blues that DeBoer fully realized the “gravity of what they’ve been through” as fans in San Jose, and “how important this is to them.”

Not that he’s satisfied with getting this far.

“The business at hand now is to get off on the right foot, plant the right seeds for this series, impose our game,” he said. “Every series is the same — it’s whatever team can impose their game on the other team the quickest and for the longest. That’s our goal here tonight.”

Related: For Pete DeBoer, San Jose was the perfect landing spot

Kopitar will play for Slovenia in Olympic qualifiers

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 13: Anze Kopitar #11 of Slovenia skates against Russia during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group A game on day six of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar will spend part of his offseason trying to help Slovenia qualify for the Olympics.

RTV Slovenia has the story here.

The qualification games will be played September 1-4 in Minsk. Slovenia is in a group with Belarus, Denmark and Poland. The winner of the group will qualify for the Olympics.

The NHL reportedly has no issue with Kopitar’s participation, even though the league has yet to commit to sending its players to Pyeongchang.

Slovenia made its Olympic debut in ice hockey at the 2014 Games in Sochi.

Kopitar will also represent Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup later in September.

Related: Slovenia beats Slovakia for historic win

Zubrus in, Nieto likely out for Sharks in Stanley Cup Final opener

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 15:  Dainius Zubrus #9 of the San Jose Sharks skates against Alexander Steen #20 of the St. Louis Blues in Game One of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 15, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH — Matt Nieto is healthy, and ready to go.

But it doesn’t look like he’ll go tonight.

The San Jose Sharks are unlikely to make any lineup changes for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in Pittsburgh — at Monday’s optional morning skate, Nieto stayed out late with the extras while the guy he’d (presumably) replace in the lineup, Dainius Zubrus, told NHL.com he was in.

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer wouldn’t reveal any lineup decisions during his morning media availability, instead talking up both Nieto (for his speed) and Zubrus (for his “heavy” game), adding he liked the versatility the two give the club on a night-by-night basis.

Nieto suffered an upper-body injury in Game 6 of the Nashville series, and missed all of the Western Conference Final.

Prior to getting hurt, he had three points in 11 games — this after a regular season in which he scored eight goals and 17 points in 67 games.