The Canadiens dropped one of their most important games of the season Saturday night to the Boston Bruins who climb back into the playoff picture with their 3-1 win. Having played less games than most teams in the East, the Bruins have seemingly come out of nowhere in the quest for playoff positions.
The Habs were unable to solve goaltender Tim Thomas as often as they would have liked. Thomas made 31 saves for his 28th win of the season, and helps Boston reach 67 points, leaving them only six back with three games in hand on the Carolina Hurricanes who sit in eighth place.
Rookie netminder Jarsoslav Halak came out with a strong performance of his own, stopping 33 shots that came his way, including 27 over the first two frames. The game was Halak’s sixth of his NHL career, and now sits at .500 with three wins and three losses.
Another rookie, Phil Kessel, had two assists for the Bruins, including one on Glen Murray’s goal late in the third period which deflated the Habs and gave Boston a two goal lead with just over four minutes to play. Kessel also finished the game with a rating of plus-3.
After Halak made 16 saves in the first period to keep the game at a scoreless tie, the Bruins were able to draw blood first on a goal by Petr Tenkrat. At 3:30 into the second period, Tenkrat’s shot from just over the blueline caught Sheldon Souray’s stick leaving Halak slightly out of position to make the save. The puck caught a piece of Halak’s glove, but found its way through.
With just over a minute left in the second period, Michael Komisarek was left alone to defend a 2-on-1 break by Boston. Brandon Bochenski was able to catch Halak cheating a little bit in expectation of a pass, and snapped a shot passed the goalie blocker side. The goal was Bochenski’s ninth of the season and his 12th point in 13 games since joining the Bruins in a trade from the Chicago Blackhawks.
Souray was able to spark some life in the Montreal Canadiens with his team-leading 23rd goal of the season. The defenseman was able to sneak in close on Thomas to get off a hard shot that ripped through the goalie’s five-hole and into the net. The goal was also Souray’s 55th point of the season.
Murray’s 28th goals of the season made the score 3-1 and deflated the Habs who waited until the third period to start shooting the puck. The Habs’ 16 shots in the third matched the sum of their shots in the first and second period combined.
Although the Habs allowed zero goals on their six penalty-kill missions, they were unable to score on five power play opportunities. This is a troublesome stat because Montreal definitely could have used the offense.
Having played to an 8-5 loss the night before in Buffalo, the Canadiens were already in for a long night. The loss was Montreal’s third straight and forth in their last five games. Having played more games than the majority of teams currently in the hunt for a playoff spot, the chances of making the post season seem more unlikely each game.
With 14 games left in the season, Montreal will play their fourth game of a five game road trip Thursday night in Atlanta. Exactly where Montreal will sit after four days without playing remains to be seen, but it is very unlikely that they will still hold down their current spot of ninth place in the Eastern Conference.