Bruins callup Matt Fraser knots up series against Canadiens
Boston Bruins winger Matt Fraser pokes the puck past Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price during Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series at the Bell Centre in Montreal, May 8, 2014. (PIERRE-PAUL POULIN/QMI Agency)
Maybe it was the frozen yogurt.
Matt Fraser was sitting in a Chipotle restaurant in Providence, R.I., Wednesday wondering what he was going to do for the day.
A little over 24 hours later, the winger, playing in his first Stanley Cup playoff game, gave the Boston Bruins a 1-0 overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre, sending the Atlantic Division final back to Boston tied 2-2 for Game 5 Saturday night.
Fraser, called up Thursday, swatted at a puck that had bounced off the backglass and eluded Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price. It bounced around under Canadiens defenceman Mike Weaver before the 23-year-old native of Red Deer, Alta., knocked it into the net 79 seconds into the first overtime.
“It was bouncing around and I was swatting it as hard as I could” said Fraser. “(Price) is such a good goalie, obviously a world-class goalie -- he doesn’t give out a lot of rebounds. I might have got lucky there, but the puck wound up in the back of the net.”
He was acquired from the Stars along with Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith as part of the deal that sent centre Tyler Seguin to Dallas. He played 14 games with the Bruins this season and another 44 with their farm club in Providence.
Fraser was sitting in that Chipotle restaurant -- the order was a double chicken burrito with guacamole and no cheese -- and expected to be getting on a bus with his Providence teammates for the ride to Wilkes-Barre, Pa., for a playoff game Thursday.
“I got frozen yogurt, too,” he said. “Maybe that’s what I need to keep doing the day before a game is eat frozen yogurt.”
He can probably find a place in Boston Friday.
Bruins coach Claude Julien put Fraser in the lineup for Game 4 and liked what he saw in regulation from him.
“I thought he had poise and made some real good decisions, was strong with the puck and his decision making,” said Julien. “I said that before in the overtime, we were talking about him and I said he’s been really good for us tonight so there was no doubt he was going to play for us in the overtime.”
Price said he lost track of the puck when it bounced in front to his right.
“It came around on the other side and it bounced over my stick and I lost it. Somebody yelled ‘over’ so I looked over my left shoulder,” he said. “Obviously it wasn’t there. Then they poked it on the other side.
“I knew where it was when it came off the glass. I just lost it when it hit a shin pad in front of the net. I don’t know what else to tell you.”
All that needs to be known is the series is tied and there’s at least two more games coming up.
As a series takes on its own personality, grows from game to game, the really good ones have two teams adapting and changing, emphasizing their strengths while working at squeezing the areas where the opponents live and breathe.
That’s the way it was in Game 4, the Bruins and the Canadiens snuffing each others’ attempts and turning this game into the most defensive and stingy of the series so far until that crazy bounce off the backglass.
The Canadiens wanted to tighten up their neutral zone play after the first two games and have been effective at that and the Bruins are already one of the best neutral zone teams in the league (though they’ve had some uncharacteristic lapses in this series).
There were some good chances on both sides through 60 minutes, but Price and Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask were each equal to the pucks that did find their way to the blue paint, though Rask made a few of the shots -- like a knee-high shot from the wing by Montreal’s Max Pacioretty early in the third -- much more interesting than they probably needed to be.
Fraser, who grew up idolozing former Quebec Nordique and Colorado Avalanche great Joe Sakic, said the goal was played out a bunch of times on the frozen rinks in Red Deer.
It’s a story often told by guys like Fraser, but it never gets old, does it?
“It’s every kid’s dream to score an overtime goal like that,” said Fraser, who was never drafted after playing in the WHL with Red Deer and Kootenay.
“(Sakic) was always my guy and I remember I met him one time in Edmonton when they were playing the Oilers. I was like a kid in a candy store. It was so exciting.
“Every kid has played on the outdoor rink in Canada and that’s where you grow up and kind of where you hone all your skills. You think back to that and you think about what you’re doing right now and it’s pretty crazy.”
Now he’s got to find that frozen yogurt.