NHL Playoffs 2011: Bruins Tie Series; Ference Fined; Thomas a Vezina Finalist

Nicholas GossCorrespondent IApril 22, 2011

MONTREAL, QC - APRIL 21:  The Boston Bruins bench explodes onto the ice after defeating the Montreal Canadiens in overtime during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell Centre on April 21, 2011 in Montreal, Canada.  (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)
Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images

The Boston Bruins have been in the news quite a bit during the last 24 hours.

Boston tied its first round series with the Montreal Canadiens Thursday night, with a thrilling comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the second period, finished by an overtime winner by Michael Ryder.

After falling a goal behind early again, Ryder tied the game at 1-1 in the opening minutes of the second period.

However, it was the Canadiens who appeared to be energized by Ryder’s goal.

Montreal scored two goals within a minute of each other by Mike Cammalleri and Andrei Kostitsyn shortly after Ryder’s equalizer to give the Canadiens a commanding 3-1 lead.

Down 3-1, the Bruins could have gone in one of two directions.

They could have laid down and quit, or they could have rallied around each other and saved their season.

Thankfully for Bruins fans, they gave a resilient effort to tie the game at 3-3 with an Andrew Ference goal midway through the second period, and a Patrice Bergeron goal near the end of the period.

After cutting the Montreal lead to 3-2 with a top-right snipe off a slapshot, Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference gave the Montreal fans the middle finger, which of course was caught by TV cameras.

On Friday the NHL fined Ference $2,500 for the gesture.

With the game tied 3-3 in the third period, Montreal defenseman PK Subban gave the Canadiens the lead with a wrist shot on the powerplay.

The Bruins remained tenacious after Subban’s go-ahead goal, and Chris Kelly, playing with a full cage helmet after suffering a facial injury earlier in the series, tied the game with about seven minutes to play in regulation.

As he has done all season, Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas made the crucial saves in the third period.

Thomas helped the Bruins force overtime with a number of remarkable saves in the last few minutes of regulation, as the Bruins killed off a Dennis Seidenberg interference penalty with just over two minutes remaining.

Boston’s penalty kill has been tremendous all series.

In overtime, Chris Kelly made a nice pass behind his own net to linemate Michael Ryder who had half the net to shoot into and succeeded, beating Canadiens goalie Carey Price top shelf to complete the comeback.

Thomas was elated after the game, acknowledging the importance of the Game 4 win, in an ESPN Boston article from April 22, 2011.

"It's really incredible we won this game," said Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas. "We really needed to win this game."

The Bruins had to win game Game 4. A 3-1 deficit would likely have been too much for the Bruins to overcome.

With the series tied 2-2, the Bruins have an excellent chance to take control of the series at home on Saturday for Game 5.

For his remarkable season in goal, Bruins goalie Tim Thomas was named a finalist for the 2011 Vezina trophy on Friday, which is awarded to the NHL's best goaltender.

Nashville’s Pekka Rinne and Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo are the other two finalists.

In another ESPN Boston article updated on April 22, 2011, Thomas commented on being a finalist for the Vezina, an award he won in 2009.

"I'm very happy to hear that, obviously," Thomas said. "After last year, wasn't quite sure if I'd ever hear that again. So, obviously I'm very happy."

The Bruins could easily have quit after falling behind 3-1 in the second period Thursday night, with all the momentum favoring Montreal.

But they never quit, and shift by shift they stormed back and were rewarded for their courageous play with a thrilling overtime win.

It wasn’t pretty and it didn’t come easy, but in the NHL playoffs, winning is the only objective and it’s accomplished any way possible.