Montreal players react as Boston fans celebrate Reilly Smith’s goal to give the Bruins the lead in the third. ASSOCIATED PRESS
BOSTON — The Boston Bruins rallied from two goals down to avoid another two-game deficit against the archrival Montreal Canadiens.
Reilly Smith scored the go-ahead goal with 3:32 left and Boston scored four times in eight minutes to beat the Canadiens 5-3 on Saturday and even the Eastern Conference semifinals at one game apiece.
"It was a fun last part of the third period," said Torey Krug, who set up Smith's goal. "We're very excited with how things turned out, but we've got to move along from it pretty soon."
Games 3 and 4 are on Tuesday and Thursday in Montreal, where in 2011 Boston won twice in its first-round series after losing the first two at home. The Bruins won the series in seven games and went on to win their first Stanley Cup title in 39 years.
Last year, the Bruins trailed Toronto by three goals with 11 minutes left in Game 7 of their first-round series before winning in overtime — scoring twice in the last 82 seconds of regulation.
Even though they know it can be done, they're glad they won't have to stage a similar comeback this year.
"The experience of going through this a lot the last few years helps a lot," forward Shawn Thornton said.
The Bruins trailed 3-1 with just over nine minutes remaining before Dougie Hamilton scored, then Patrice Bergeron tied it with 5:43 remaining. Reilly wristed a cross-ice pass from Krug past Carey Price to give Boston the lead. Milan Lucic added an empty-net goal with 66 seconds left.
"We weren't expecting to come in here and sweep two games," said Price, who stopped 30 shots. "They poured it on a little and they were a little lucky, I thought. They were playing desperate at the end. We've just got to regroup and realize what situation we're in. We're in a good spot."
Tuukka Rask had 25 saves for Boston — the first time in 10 tries in his career that he has beaten the Bruins' Original Six rival at the TD Garden. Montreal won Game 1 in double overtime.
"The feeling of winning is a lot better," Rask said. "I'm happy how we bounced back after we were down 3-1."
Thomas Vanek twice tipped P.K. Subban's slap shots into the net, and Mike Weaver also scored for the Canadiens, who lost for the first time in this year's playoffs.
"We've got to find ways, when we have the lead, to finish it off," Montreal captain Brian Gionta said. "Come playoff time, that's a huge key to wins."
Subban scored twice in Game 1, including a double-overtime goal that unleashed a series of racial slurs on social media.
The Bruins distanced themselves from what team President Cam Neely called "the racist, classless views expressed by an ignorant group of individuals," and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman joined in on Saturday.
"We condemn bias and hatred," he said before the game. "It has no place in our game and it's not acceptable."