Fresh off their win in Washington on Friday, the Habs looked to make it two straight wins as they hosted Boston on Saturday. Unfortunately for them, the result was the same as their previous two meetings as the Bruins took the victory by a score of 4-1.
The Habs made one lineup change for this one and it was one that everyone expected. Carey Price got the nod between the pipes after Antti Niemi picked up on the win on Friday night. That left Joe Morrow and Daniel Carr as the healthy scratches.
In their last meeting on Wednesday, there wasn’t much in the way of physical play. That wasn’t the case early on as both teams were engaged and the hits came quickly. The scoring chances, however, didn’t. Neither goalie was tested with much in the way of quality opportunities although Price had to make a couple of stops after some defensive zone bobbles.
Charles Hudon, who was the victim of a hard hit from David Backes in the opening minute, drew a penalty on Backes just past the midway point of the period. The Habs weren’t able to get anything going with the man advantage and shortly after the power play ended, Hudon took a penalty himself but Boston wasn’t able to score either. The period ended without a goal and the visitors holding an 11-9 edge in the shot department.
Boston had the best chance in the early moments of the middle stanza but Patrice Bergeron put the puck off the side of the net which was a nice break for the home side.
Montreal got another nice break a little past the halfway mark as Paul Byron forced a turnover off Bruins defenceman Charlie McAvoy to kickstart a two-on-one. He fed the puck to Max Pacioretty and the captain made no mistake to open the scoring.
However, Boston got a break of their own shortly after that. David Pastrnak threw the puck on net from the goal line. It went between Price’s right pad and his stick and ultimately bounced off his left skate and in to even up the scoring. Less than two minutes later, they struck again as Torey Krug wristed one top shelf on Price to give the Bruins the lead. The Habs found themselves on their heels at that point despite a relatively evenly-played game but they were able to get to the dressing room with the one goal deficit intact. Shots on goal in the period were 12-8 for the Bruins.
Logan Shaw made a great play to give him a shot at notching the equalizer early in the third. He wound up deking out Tuukka Rask but he also wound up deking himself out in the process and failed to get a shot off. There’s a reason he has never been a big goal scorer at the NHL level…
The Bruins looked to double their lead on the power play after Jeff Petry took a slashing penalty but Claude Julien correctly challenged for offside to keep it a 2-1 game. After that, the Habs had another chance to tie it up as Byron came in on a partial breakaway. Instead of shooting though, he opted to pass to a well-covered Pacioretty and the play ended there.
Boston managed to get a 3-1 goal that counted with three minutes to go as Pastrnak picked up his second of the night as he pounced on a rebound to beat Price. Riley Nash added an empty netter to ensure Boston’s sweep of this three-game miniseries between the two teams.
Rask made 24 saves for the win while Price turned aside 27 of the 30 shots he faced. Neither team was able to score with the man advantage as Boston was 0/3 while Montreal didn’t score on their lone opportunity.
HW Habs 3 Stars of the Night
1st Star: Paul Byron – He was involved in the action all night long and seems to be adapting quickly to playing centre. He and Pacioretty are showing signs of chemistry (even though Byron should have shot on that third-period opportunity). Byron is quietly on a nice little run of late with points in four straight games now.
Stats: 1 assist, even rating, 3 shots, 3 hits, 2 giveaways, 2 takeaways, 18:02 TOI
2nd Star: Max Pacioretty – Pacioretty had the lone goal of the game and curiously, that was his only shot to hit the net. However, while he wasn’t getting pucks through, he was making an impact physically which is something we haven’t seen too often from him this season. He looks like a completely different player now than he did a few weeks ago; it’s amazing what a bit of confidence can do for him.
Stats: 1 goal, 2 PIMS, even rating, 1 shot, 7 hits, 17:59 TOI
3rd Star: Karl Alzner – A lot of nights, Alzner has tried to do a bit more offensively and bad things have happened. That wasn’t the case in this one. He pinched at the right times to keep the puck in the attacking zone while being decent in his own end as well. More nights like this would go a long way towards getting him closer to fulfilling his contract.
Stats: 0 points, even rating, 3 shots, 4 blocks, 20:06 TOI
Honourable Mention: Jakub Jerabek – His little point streak came to an end but Jerabek still had a decent game. He looked a lot more assertive than usual, especially in the offensive zone. He still had his moments in his own end but I think that’s going to be normal for him most nights but overall, he looks like he is finding his bearings in the NHL fairly quickly.
Stats: 0 points, -1 rating, 1 shot, 2 hits, 19:26 TOI