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The Toronto-Montreal rivalry may have lost some of its lustre in recent years
but the Boston-Montreal one is alive and well.  The two teams met for the
first time since their entertaining and heartbreaking Round 1 series from last
season.  Round one went to the Habs as they pulled out a 2-1 road victory
giving them a winning streak for the first time in 2011-12.

The game couldn’t have got off to much worse of a start for the Habs. 
After Petteri Nokelainen took an interference call, Tomas Plekanec won the
faceoff cleanly.  If you didn’t watch the game, you’re probably wondering
what the problem is.  Unfortunately for Montreal, he won it back too
cleanly, banking the puck off the edge of Carey Price’s skate and into the net
to give Boston the opening goal.  That goal snapped a perfect penalty kill
on the road; the Habs were 17/17 on road PK’s prior to that.

It was one of Jacques Martin’s latest line concoctions that tied the game in
the 2nd.  Erik Cole tipped home a point shot from Jaroslav Spacek just past
the halfway point of the stanza; David Desharnais also added an assist. 
Late in the period gave us the P.K. Subban and Brad Marchand show.  The two
took a pair of offsetting minors before dropping the gloves late in the period. 
After the period, Subban had as many penalty minutes as he had minutes played.

The final period provided several close opportunities for both teams, though
it was Tomas Plekanec who was the lone one to tickle the twine.  His
initial shot was blocked but in doing so, it opened up a small spot for the
Czech pivot to beat Tim Thomas for what proved to be the game winner.  The
B’s threw everything but the kitchen sink at Price in the dying minutes and
seconds but were unable to get one through.  Price made 29 saves for the
win while Thomas was the hard luck loser; he turned aside 33 shots in the loss. 
The Habs were 0/2 with the man advantage while Boston was 1/6.

HW 3 Stars of the Night

1st Star: Carey Price (29 saves on 30 shots, 1.00 GAA, .967 SV%)

Although this game may be remembered for the blooper that led to Boston’s
only goal, it should be remembered for the timely and huge saves he provided in
the rest of the game.  He also had a lot more confidence out there,
something we hadn’t seen a lot of this season.

2nd Star: Tomas Plekanec (1 goal, +1 rating, 2 PIMS, 2 shots, 2
hits, 9/20 faceoffs, 18:14 TOI)

Frankly, I thought Plekanec had another relatively quiet game in general. 
However, when you get the the game winning goal, one of the 3 Stars is most
certainly deserved.  Of note, two Hab centres had more shorthanded TOI than
he did, Nokelainen and Lars Eller.

3rd Star: Erik Cole (1 goal, +1 rating, 6 shots, 2 hits, 14:06

Cole was aggressive all night long and for a team that played timid early on,
he stood out amongst the pack.  Although the official scorer may disagree
with me, he had a couple of important takeaways that led to some good chances;
I’m happy to see him back checking more than he was early on in the campaign.

Honourable Mention: Raphael Diaz (0 points, even rating, 2
shots, 2 blocks, 17:25 TOI)

The sprawling block across the crease to bail out Price late in the 2nd
period while shorthanded was a thing of beauty.  It also was, in my
opinion, a game saver.

Stat of the Night: Michael Blunden may not be playing much out
there but he most certainly is efficient.  In 6:43 of ice time, he had a
hit and a couple of shots.  This comes a night after having a game high
five hits in 6:25.  He certainly is making the most of his opportunities
out there.

In other news, Louis Leblanc’s professional debut couldn’t have gone much
better.  He had assists on Hamilton’s first two goals and scored the winner
in overtime as the Bulldogs beat Rochester 3-2.