Bruins still fuming at Ribeiro

He doesn't have a single point and is a minus-5 after three games, but Montreal Canadiens forward Mike Ribeiro has become the centre of attention.

The Canadiens squeaked out a 3-2 win Sunday in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference quarter-final series against Boston to prevent the Bruins from taking a commanding 3-0 series lead.

Losing to Montreal was bad enough, but the Bruins were even more steamed at Ribeiro, who they accused of play-acting when he stayed down on the ice in apparent pain after colliding with Boston forward Mike Knuble late in the game.

Ribeiro, who then taunted the Bruins as he made his way to the bench, appeared unhurt later.

All of which sets the stage for what promises to be an intense affair in Game 4 of the best-of-seven series Tuesday (CBC, 7 p.m. EST) at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

Ribeiro complained of a pinched nerve in his neck but skated with his team Tuesday morning. He will be a game-time decision against the Bruins.

Ribeiro did not skate with the club on Monday, instead receiving treatment from club doctors. He was not made available to the media, but that didn't stop Habs coach Claude Julien from launching into a passionate defence of his player.

"How can we all stand here and say he was faking when he doesn't practice today?" asked Julien of reporters after Monday's workout.

"Let's get something straight here, the guy was injured last night and people assume he was faking because he got back up, but he missed today. Not because I gave him the day off but because he's got an upper body injury."

Knuble, unimpressed with Julien's explanation, still thinks Ribeiro embellished the incident.

"It (embellishing) seems to be happening a lot more in the game. I'm not going to comment on the state of our game ... I guess his coach did what he had to do and defended him."

"It's not good for our game to see stuff like that, embellishing stuff," Bruins defenceman Dan McGillis told Hockey Night in Canada.

Boston has injury concerns of its own to worry about.

Michael Nylander did not practice with the club Monday after sitting out Game 3 with what was said to be the flu.

However, rampant speculation is that Nylander, currently sixth in playoff scoring with four points (two goals, two assists), has not fully recovered from a crushing hit in Game 2 delivered by Habs forward Steve Begin.

Begin left the Bell Centre after Game 3 on Sunday on crutches. Julien said he is day-to-day with a lower body injury and could play in Game 4.

Boston coach Mike Sullivan is not using the loss of Nylander as an excuse for losing Game 3.

"Does it hurt to not have a guy like Michael Nylander not in our lineup? Sure it does, but that's why we have depth and that's why we have people we feel can step in and do the job. By no means is that an excuse for not getting the result," said Sullivan.

Besides the loss of Nylander, another concern for Sullivan has to be the lack of production from his top forward line of Knuble, Joe Thornton and Glen Murray who only have one goal in the series and are a combined minus-5.

The series shifts to Boston Thursday for Game 5 (CBC, 7 p.m. EST).