In the words of the legendary Mitch Hedberg, “…you have start the show strong and end the show strong… You can’t be like pancakes, all exciting at first, but then by the end you’re sick of them.”
As they have been known to do this season, the Boston Bruins once again closed strong on Wednesday night, putting home two, third period goals to escape with a 2-1 over the archrival Canadiens, on the road in Montreal, claiming first place in the Eastern Conference with the win.
The Bruins came out flat in the first period against Montreal. Despite coming into the game averaging 32.4 shots per game (third in the NHL), it took Boston until 11:24 of the first period to register their first shot on Montreal goaltender Carey Price, as the host Canadiens pushed their rivals all over the Bell Centre. The first period for the Bruins was a performance reminiscing of their recent 7-4 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, with the Bruins looking undisciplined and uncoordinated, unable to manage any sort of stability at either end of the ice.
Boston was still able to escape the period tied 0-0 thanks to an otherworldly performance by goaltender Tuukka Rask, who came into the night riding a personal, five-game losing streak against the Canadiens. Rask stopped all 11 shots he faced in the first period, keeping the Bruins in the game and continued his strong play into the second period, stopping a number of breakaways and quality chances while his teammates tried to find their rhythm in front of him.
The only blemish on Rask’s record for the evening came just about midway through the second period as Montreal defenseman PK Subban riffled a shot from the point on the power play that tipped off Bruins winger Rich Peverley’s stick, beating Rask high glove for Subban’s first tally of the season and a 1-0 Montreal lead at 10:53 of the second. Rask is perfect on the season when giving up two goals or less and, with this win, runs his record to 6-1-1, tying himself with Price for the league lead in wins.
With everyone on the team outside of Rask struggling through the first 40 minutes, head coach Claude Julien shuffled his lines heading into the third period and the change paid immediate dividends for the Bruins bench boss. Trading places with Nathan Horton, Tyler Seguin was moved up to play alongside David Krejci and Milan Lucic to start the third period and it took all of 14 seconds for the line to get clicking as Seguin tied the game, 1-1, with a backhand redirection at the top of the crease off a pass from Krejci.
The Bruins took over the game from the onset of the third, as they had done earlier in the year in wins over the Islanders, Hurricanes and Devils. The Krejci-Seguin-Lucic line connected again at 2:05 of the third in a similar fashion to their first goal. This time, however, it was Krejci tipping home a feed from Lucic at the top of the crease for the final goal of the night.
Despite their much-improved play, the Bruins were never able to run away with the game as Montreal kept up the strong play they exhibited for much of the game. Rask continued to come up big as he had all game, however, as the Canadiens pressed late into the third period, most notably with a highlight save on a David Desharnais tip from the doorstep with just over five minutes to play and another on a wild deflection off the stick of Bruins captain Zdeno Chara.
With the win, the Bruins climbed over the Pittsburgh Penguins to claim the top spot in the East and give themselves a little breathing room over the Canadiens atop the Northeast Division. Boston finish their stretch of division games going 2-1-0 and now has a two-day break before getting back into action on Saturday against the Southeast Division leading Tampa Bay Lightning in Boston.
Currently riding a two-game losing streak, the Lightning play in New Jersey on Thursday before heading to Boston. Tampa comes north bolstering what is currently the league’s top scoring offense (4.44 goals per game) and second best power play, operating at 32.5%, immediately challenging a Bruins team that has struggled to find consistency in their play much of their past three games until the third period on Wednesday night. Although, the return to the lineup of both Brad Marchand and Daniel Paille, both of whom were injury scratches in Montreal, should help stabilize the Bruins’ line-up as they continue to find their stride from the opening games of the season on Saturday against another of the league’s best.
About the Author
Written by Matt Preston
I'm no Heminway or Haggerty, but keeping the dream alive, even if I'm pretty sure my Nana is my only follower. Self-deprecation is key, grammar is optional.