Boston didn’t have a third period comeback in them this time as Montreal skated to a 4-2 victory in front of a bumping Bell Centre crowd.
Michel Therrien tinkered with the lineup, bringing in Travis Moen for Brandon Prust, and Douglas Murray for Francis Bouillon. Montreal started off strong, generating a few shots early. Zdeno Chara seemed to injure his hand early-on, heading to the locker room a few minutes into the game. Montreal’s game plan early seemed to be physical play and pucks on Tuuka Rask. Carey Price was up to the task early as well. Chara returned around the six minute mark, with Patrice Bergeron missing a chance in front shortly after. Boston continued to apply pressure, forcing a pair of icing calls out of the Canadiens.
The teams continued to trade shots midway through the period, with Boston dictating the play. That changed with a spectacular pass from the point by Thomas Vanek to Tomas Plekanec on the side of the Boston net, who buried it for the 1-0 lead at 10:57. The goal sparked Montreal, but a wild PK Subban high hit attempt took out Riley Smith, and Vanek, with the latter heading to the dressing room and Subban heading to the penalty box for two minutes. Amends were made at the end of the penalty with a heads up play from Lars Eller to spring Subban exiting the box for a breakaway. Subban deked to the forehand to give Montreal the dreaded 2-0 lead at 14:44 in the first period. Price preserved the two goal lead with a few big stops towards the end of the period, while Rask kept it at 2-0 into the first intermission.
A pretty uneventful start to the second period, with Carey Price making a few routine saves. The game went back and forth with no real, concrete scoring opportunities for either side. Torrey Krug teed one up inside the faceoff circle a little over five minutes in, with Price making the save. Going the other way, Vanek, who was back to start the second, hammered one on Rask, who handled it easily. Price continued his solid play and a strange turnover at the other end in front of Rask that Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher couldn’t bury. The game opened up, as Boston missed a chance in front and then Vanek was almost sprung on a breakaway. Going the other way, Boston hit the post as the tempo of the game rose.
Near the midway point of the period, Carl Soderberg fluffed a golden opportunity to Price’s left, which he quickly covered for the whistle. Both continued to go at one and other, generating chances and forcing strong saves from their respective keepers. A smart play by Boston had Price came out on top again, denying Krug in close. The play was reviewed for some reason, confirming Price kept the puck out before the whistle went. Immediately after, Daniel Briere sprung Dale Weise on breakaway and he made no mistake, going five-hole on Rask for the 3-0 lead with a little over six minutes remaining. Montreal continued to generate chances towards the end of the period as Boston seemed to have the wind taken out of its sails. Boston pulled one back late as Bergeron tipped Krug’s point shot past Price with a little over two minutes to play in the second. Both teams pressed for another goal before the period ended, but Montreal would skate into the second intermission with a 3-1 lead.
Boston started strong as every analyst watching hockey cited Boston’s impressive third period record. Montreal absorbed the early pressure, generating a few chances of their own. Boston continued to pressure Montreal deep, cycling around the net and getting bodies forward. A close call in front of Price as Dougie Hamilton swooped in on the wing, forcing Price into giving a rebound in front. Soderberg charged into Price, getting two minutes for goaltender interference at 8:44.
The powerplay failed to generate any real chances, with Briere coming closest on a rebound from a Subban point shot. Boston began turning the heat up again as the minutes starting ticking away, forcing Price to continually freeze the puck. Montreal continued to step in front of Bruins pressure with mike Weaver blocking a Johnny Boychuk shot and Gallagher getting in front of a Chara blast. Vanek had a brilliant shift with under five minutes to play, ending it with a shot off the post from a nice feed from Plekanec.
Gallagher got away with a high-stick after a whistled down play in front of the Boston net. On the next sequence, Eller almost had a lucky bounce fool Rask. Boston pulled the goalie with two and a half minutes left, leading to an Iginla tip and a 3-2 Montreal lead with 2:16 to play. Krug kept Boston alive, blocking a Plekanec empty net attempt. Boston took a timeout with 1:02 left to play. Travis Moen got away with a late on Iginla, drawing a faceoff with 22 seconds to play. The next sequence had the Canadiens net knocked off by Subban, giving the Bruins an offensive zone faceoff with 10 seconds to play. Bergeron won the faceoff but Eller made a great play to get the puck out and bury the empty net goal for a 4-2 Montreal victory. The final faceoff saw some shoving, but Montreal skated off the ice with a 2-1 series lead.
HW 3 Stars of the Night
1st Star – Carey Price
He was beaten by two tipped in shots, but the big saves and calm demeanor was the difference in this game. Confidence is built from the net out, and Price is in frustrating form.
26 saves on 28 shots – .929 save percentage – 2.00 GAA
2nd Star – P.K. Subban
Arguably interchangeable with Price here. Subban has been an absolute Bruins killer, scoring a beauty out of the penalty and getting under Boston’s skin. He’s playing a tight defensive game, logged the most minutes on either team: Subban has looked brilliant this postseason.
1 goal – 1 assist – +1 rating – 1 shot – 2 hits – 1 takeaway – 27:50:49 TOI
3rd Star – Dale Weise
Not so much the for the goal he scored, but more for the presence he had on the ice. He made big plays all over the ice and was a factor during his limited ice time.
1 goal – 1 assist – +2 rating – 2 shots – 3 hits – 0 takeaways – 11:07 TOI
Alexei Emelin. Yeah, sometimes it’s not pretty when he’s on defence but with 7 hits and 5 blocked shots, both tops for either team, he earned his seat at the table.
0 goals – 0 assists – +2 rating – 0 shots – 7 hits – 0 takeaways – 21:02 TOI
Stat of the Night
50%. Both teams were dead even at 38 faceoff wins apiece, which is a big step for the Canadiens against a team that wins possession regularly at the dot. Plekanec put in a hell of an effort in front of Bergeron.