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The Montreal Canadiens posted a convincing 4-1 victory, but the win was tainted after Max Pacioretty was severely injured following a Zdeno Chara check with only 15 seconds left in the second period. Both skating along the player benches, Chara hit the Canadiens forward, who was without the puck, head first into the partition separating the benches. Pacioretty left the game on a stretcher while Zdeno Chara was given a five-minute major.
Lars Eller helped the Habs leap to a quick two goal lead, scoring twice in the opening period. On his first tally, the Danish centre tracked down a rebound in front of the net and poked it past Tuukka Rask. Then, with less than 3 minutes remaining in the frame, Eller found himself alone in front of the opposing goal and made a nifty spin-move to get the puck over the netminder.
In the middle stanza, the Canadiens were able to double their lead thanks to two powerplay markers. Brian Gionta saw a shot trickle through Rask while James Wisniewski blasted a howitzer through the Finn’s pads. Boston controlled most of the third period, but by that time the game was out of reach for the Bruins. Milan Lucic scored for the visitors while Rask made 22 saves in the loss. Carey Price made 30 saves for his league-leading 32nd win.
HW 3 Stars
1. Lars Eller: The Danish centre is beginning to show what Pierre Gauthier saw in him this summer. His two goals were impressive, but his work on the boards, defensive play and compete level were also worthy of note.
Statline: 2 G, 0 A, +1, 2 shots, 1 blocked shot, 3 hits, 15:53 TOI
2. Carey Price: His team was excellent in front of him for two periods, but the fact remains that Price was called upon to make many important saves and helped snuff out 4 Boston powerplays as well as a Brad Marchand penalty shot.
Statline: 30 saves on 31 shots
3. Hal Gill: The suddenly prolific Hal Gill was not able to extend his scoring streak, but he once again played a solid contest and contained most of the offensive threats thrown his way. On top of that, he was second in ice-time and co-led the team in blocked shots.
Statline: 0 G, 0 A, Even, 1 shot, 5 blocked shots, 2 hits, 21:20 TOI
HM. Paul Mara:Paul Mara was not spectacular by any means, but he proved to be a solid presence in his own end, was reasonably physical, stepped in for teammates when needed and managed to add his name to the score sheet.
Statline: 0 G, 1 A, 2 shots, 5 blocked shots, 1 hit, 16:42 TOI
Final Thought :Given the events of the evening, I would be remiss if I did not comment on Zdeno Chara’s hit on Max Pacioretty. One can watch the replay ad infinitum, it is impossible to actually determine Chara’s intent on the play. We simply are not in his head. Having said that, it seems reasonable to expect a Norris-trophy winning defensemen to be aware of the time on the clock, the fact that the player does not have the puck and, most importantly, the dangerous location on the ice. Regardless of intent or analysis, it was a disheartening sight.
Louis Moustakas can be reached for comments, questions, cross-checks and, of course, fan-mail at email@example.com