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Montreal's Tomas Plekanec celebrates Alex Kovalev's winning goal in overtime on Saturday night, which gave the Canadiens a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven series. ((Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press))

There's an old joke about an eternally optimistic kid digging frantically through a box of manure because he's convinced there's a pony in there somewhere.

Bringing us to the Boston Bruins, who return to New England Sunday night for Game 3 of their NHL Eastern Conference preliminary-round playoff series with the Montreal Canadiens (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7 p.m. ET) down 2-0 in the best-of-seven.

Hardly the best of times, but those optimists in the room must be having a field day trying to convince everyone it's not the worst of times, either.

That 3-2 loss on Saturday in Montreal offered a few interesting pieces to chew on.

Such as that vaunted Habs power play going 0-for-6 on the night until Alex Kovalev scored in overtime after a borderline call from the refs. That was the first goal with the extra man in 13 tries for the league's best power-play unit, by the way.

Or that Boston's forechecking seemed to confuse the Canadiens at times, leading to some good chances against rookie goaltender Carey Price and a 39-31 shots advantage.

And though down 2-0 in front of a hostile crowd with 16 minutes left, the Bruins put on a charge, getting goals from Peter Schaefer and David Krejci to tie the game and force the extra frame.

Even the hockey gods might have taken notice, if you consider Montreal defender Patrice Brisebois's slapshot right at the final horn that rang off the post behind Boston goaltender Tim Thomas, preserving for about 25 minutes the Bruins' chance at tying the series.

Still, there's always a pessimist somewhere, and Sunday he was whispering in everyone's ear two salient facts: Boston has never come back to win a seven-game series when trailing 2-0, and Montreal is now 10-0 against the Beantowners this season and 13-0 back to last year.

Julien still believes

Boston coach Claude Julien isn't listening to that glass-half-empty guy, even with his team taking too many penalties on Saturday, including a four-minute job for high sticking by Scott Thornton late in the third that carried over into overtime, where he was joined in the box by Jeremy Reich, who might or might not have been guilty of tripping.

"We feel we deserve better," Julien said. "Aside from the penalties, we battled hard and our penalty killing was outstanding.

"We gave ourselves a chance, and that's something we can build on."

Over in the Montreal room, coach Guy Carbonneau was reminding his players on Saturday that the Bruins are hanging around, and a wounded bear is a dangerous one.

"It's two games now where Boston's played well on penalty killing," Carbonneau said. "You have to give them credit.

"In the playoffs, everything is tighter. People block more shots and that makes it harder."

Young Habs find a way

From the Habs' perspective, everything is going nicely, thanks. They outplayed the Bruins badly in Game 1, and despite the inevitable bumps in the road you find with a club as young as this one, they survived Game 2.

"We knew we couldn't panic and we couldn't let ourselves get stressed and running around," Price told Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday. "Fortunately, we got a power play and we buried it."

Later, the young goalie said the team didn't have much to say in the dressing room after blowing a 2-0 third period lead.

"We just knew we had to come out and play our game. We got running around a bit in the third and we settled down and got the win," he said.

The Habs must smile when thinking about their rookie netminder's mark against the Bruins in Boston this season. He's 3-0 with a 1.67 goals against average and a .945 save percentage. That's five goals on 96 shots.

Look for Julien to continue with tough forward Vladimir Sobotka in his lineup, replacing healthy scratch Phil Kessel. Sobotka was 6-for-9 on the draw in Saturday's game.