- Joe McDonald, ESPN Staff Writer
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MONTREAL -- Matt Fraser literally was shaking with excitement.
The 23-year-old forward had just scored at 1:19 of overtime to help the Boston Bruins to a 1-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 4 of their second-round Stanley Cup playoff series Thursday night at Bell Centre. The win evened the series at two games apiece with Game 5 Saturday at TD Garden.
Fraser, who was called up from the Providence Bruins of the AHL on Wednesday, stood in the lower concourse outside the Bruins locker room Thursday night surrounded by a media horde. His voice was cracking and his hands were shaking.
"Words can't even describe how I feel," said Fraser, who was sporting the team's vintage Bruins jacket awarded to the player of the game by his teammates. "I just watched the replay of it and I don't even want to begin to try to explain it because that's something I wish every kid could feel."
On the goal, the Bruins created a scrum in front of Montreal goaltender Carey Price, and Fraser was able to dig out the puck and slip it past Price, who had made 34 saves in the game. The Bruins players on the ice and on the bench erupted with excitement and mobbed Fraser.
The first thing he wanted to do after the game was call his parents.
"It's the most important that I talk to my parents," Fraser said. "I always try to talk to my parents after the game. Hopefully my dad was impressed with this one."
Early Wednesday afternoon, Fraser sat at a Chipotle restaurant in Providence, R.I., thinking about his upcoming Calder Cup playoff series against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney called Fraser and informed him of his promotion. Fraser quickly put down his double-chicken burrito with guacamole and no cheese, and before packing his things for his flight to Montreal he still had time to grab a frozen yogurt.
After the Bruins' morning skate, he still didn't know whether he would be in the lineup. Prior to the team meeting in the afternoon, Fraser was told he would be making his NHL playoff debut. He played on the third line with Loui Eriksson and Carl Soderberg, and finished with 14:44 of ice time.
"I hardly slept today. I'm sure I'll hardly sleep tonight," Fraser said. "But at the same time, you've got to keep it in perspective. This is one game and we've evened the series. Now we've got to go back to Boston and come with the same effort."
Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron can appreciate how Fraser was feeling after Boston's Game 4 win. During Bergeron's rookie season, he scored a game-winning goal at 1:26 of overtime to help the Bruins to a 2-1 win over the Canadiens on April 9, 2004, at TD Garden.
"It's definitely a great feeling and probably the biggest goal of his career, I'm sure," Bergeron said. "Definitely a great moment. He's got to enjoy it, and he had a great game. It was a big way for him to end this."
Last spring, Bruins defenseman Torey Krug provided similar heroics. He also was summoned from the P-Bruins during the playoffs and quickly proved he could play at this level when he scored the goal that forced overtime against the New York Rangers in a game the Bruins won 3-2.
Krug knows firsthand how Fraser was feeling after Thursday's game.
"Man, it's unbelievable. Good for him," Krug said. "I don't know if he has many words to describe how he feels right now. If he does, good for him because I had trouble describing it last year."
Since he was so caught up with the task at hand last postseason, Krug waited until the summer to reflect on what he had experienced.
"I think [Fraser's] probably going to do the same," Krug said. "Obviously, he's going to have a lot of fun tonight and hopefully he's living in the moment."
For Fraser, scoring a goal in this situation will only help him settle into his game and calm his nerves.
"Absolutely it helps when you figure out you can contribute at such a high level in an important game," Krug said. "His confidence is going to go through the roof. Next game, I think you'll see him shooting the puck a little bit more. I'm very excited for him."
When Fraser first arrived in Boston as part of the six-player trade with the Dallas Stars in July, he knew the history of the Bruins. He knew the history of sports in Boston and the long-standing tradition of winning teams. He tried to not let it overwhelm him.
"It's something you try not to think about," Fraser said. "You don't want to get too overwhelmed and be so nervous that you don't know how to play the game anymore. When I was first traded here, you not only think about how successful the Boston Bruins are, but the whole city and how this whole city comes together. It's fun to be a part of it and be a part of something like this."
Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask was a major reason why Game 4 remained scoreless until Fraser struck in overtime. Rask, who finished with 33 saves, was pumped for Fraser's heroics.
"Oh, it's great," Rask said. "It's great. A lot of times that's the kind of guy that scores those goals; nobody knows he's even out there. I'm happy for him."
Early in the day after the team's morning skate, Fraser said he would try to keep his emotions in check once the puck dropped. He had previously played two exhibition games at the Bell Centre, but nothing can compare to the atmosphere in the building for a Stanley Cup playoff game.
When asked what it was like when his blades first cut a groove in the ice, Fraser said, "Wow. I played two exhibition games here before and then I was really like, 'OK, here we go.' I mean, there's more in this media scrum than there are fans in Providence, and that's not a diss to Providence, but this is such a cool atmosphere here and such a cool thing to be a part of."
When the puck slipped past Price, Fraser celebrated appropriately.
"I can't repeat the words," Fraser said with a laugh. "I'm still shaking with excitement. It's every kid's dream to score an overtime goal like that and contribute."
Only moments after the game, Fraser thought about all the time he spent honing his skills on the outdoor rinks of Red Deer, Alberta.
"You think back to that," Fraser said, "and then you think to what you're doing right now and it's pretty crazy."
11dScott Burnside and Craig Custance