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Sunday, April 18, 2004
Updated: April 21, 2:31 PM ET
Habs trying to finish rally from 3-1 down

Associated Press

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins expected to spend Patriots Day getting ready for the second round of the playoffs instead of fighting to get in it.

But that's the situation they're in after the Montreal Canadiens won two straight games to even the series 3-3. Game 7 is Monday night in Boston.

"I don't think we were overconfident, but when you're up 3-1 it's a lot harder to be desperate then when you're down 3-1," said goaltender Andrew Raycroft. "I don't think anyone expects us to win now, so if anything maybe the pressure's off us a little bit."

The Bruins are 14-0 in playoff series they've led 3-1, and the Canadiens have never come back from that deficit to win. In fact, it's the first time since 1954 that Montreal has forced a Game 7 in a series it trailed 3-1.

"Probably the worst thing to do is to say something going into Game 7," said Canadiens forward Alex Kovalev, who has an NHL-high five playoff goals. "It should be the same as any other game."

By pushing the series to a Game 7, the Canadiens helped create a sports hat trick in Boston. The game will cap a busy day, following the Boston Marathon and the fourth game of a weekend series between the Red Sox and New York Yankees.

"It's going to be a big day in Boston, and we all understand that. We're expecting a nice loud crowd on our side," Bruins goalie Andrew Raycroft said. "Montreal-Boston in a Game 7 on Marathon Monday, it doesn't get any bigger or better than that."

The Canadiens have responded to back-to-back elimination games in impressive fashion, blowing out Boston 5-1 on the road in Game 5 and then tying the series with a 5-2 victory in Montreal on Saturday night.

With its season on the line, Montreal crawled back into the series by playing with much more urgency than Boston. The Canadiens have looked so strong the past two games that many feel the Bruins, the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, are now the underdogs.

"It will be the most exciting game of the playoffs," Kovalev said. "When you get to a seventh game, the emotions, the feelings you have ...

"You know you have to give whatever you've got because there will be no more games unless you win. You can't think of anything else."

Kovalev's gaffe in the second overtime of Game 4 that led to the winning goal appeared to be the defining moment of the series. But he and his teammates rebounded from his turnover, after he was slashed in the wrist, and outplayed the Bruins the next two games.

"We have a resilient group," Bruins coach Mike Sullivan said Sunday after the team's optional skate. "I think the guys are obviously disappointed that they let a couple games slip by us, but I think our guys are really looking forward to the opportunity of a Game 7."

This will be the sixth one between the Original Six rivals. Montreal beat the Bruins in Game 7s in 1952, 1971 and 1979, but Boston bounced back to knock out the Canadiens in 1991 and 1994.

They last met in the playoffs two years ago when the Canadiens needed just six games to beat the top-seeded Bruins in the first round. Another loss to Montreal would mark the third straight first-round exit for Boston.

"Somebody's season is going to end, and that's pressure enough," forward Mike Knuble said. "Both teams are going to feel that pressure, and we want to capitalize on the enthusiasm of the crowd like Montreal has."