The Canadiens were looking get back in the win column as they visited TD Garden in Boston on Sunday night. After seven straight losses, Montreal came into the game with something to prove. It was a solid first forty minutes for the Habs, but a lack of execution in the third gave the Bruins a 3-1 win.
Victor Mete was injured in the game yesterday and did not make the trip with the team so Brett Kulak was inserted in his place. Carey Price was given the start in goal after Kinkaid played Saturday afternoon. Other than that, the lineup remained the same.
Early on in the first period, the Finnish line of Lehkonen-Kotkaniemi-Armia was reunited. This move paid dividends as it was this line that got the scoring started. A good, hard-working forecheck from all three forwards led to Armia opening the scoring for the second straight night. He stole the puck from Zdeno Chara behind the net, then brought it out front and put a backhander past Tuukka Rask.
Montreal took a workmanlike approach to this game, and they outplayed the Bruins for most of the first period. The Habs were winning almost all of the races and when they didn’t, they were quick to battle for the puck along the boards.
Boston came close to tying the game around the halfway point of the period. After a couple of turnovers, the Habs were stuck in their own zone. There were two point-blank chances for the Bruins, but Ben Chiarot and Price each made a pad save to keep the puck out. Other than this play, the Habs did a good job limiting the Bruins’ chances.
Montreal got their first power play opportunity with five minutes to go in the first when Charles Hudon caught a high stick from Charlie McAvoy. The Habs moved the puck well on the power play but were unable to solve the Bruins’ penalty kill. Montreal continued to pressure Boston for the rest of the period and kept their 1-0 lead going into the first intermission.
The Bruins carried the play early in the second period and came close to finding the equalizer. Nate Thompson had lost his stick and the Habs were hemmed in their own zone. Montreal bent, but they did not break.
The Habs weathered the storm, and the play started to level out throughout the middle minutes of the second period. Montreal started to get their speed going again and had some stronger forechecking.
With five minutes to go, Chris Wagner was left alone in front, but Price stuck his pad out to stop it. The Habs passed a monumental test late in the second. Weber was called for interfering with David Pastrnak in the last three minutes. There was a scrum afterwards, and Brendan Gallagher and Jake DeBrusk were sent off for roughing. Montreal’s penalty killers were fast and did not give the Bruins time to set up their lethal power play. The Habs killed off the penalty and withstood a crazy last minute of play to keep their lead going into the third.
Early on in the third period, Montreal missed a glorious chance to extend the lead. Gallagher forced a turnover at centre ice and was in alone but Rask got the best of him to keep the puck out of the net. The Bruins struck back shortly after when Pastrnak came down the right wing and ripped a slapshot past Price.
With eleven minutes to go the Bruins got a power play chance when Nick Cousins was called for holding behind the Bruins’ net. The Canadiens were almost able to kill it off, but late in the penalty David Backes was able to get one past Price to give Boston the lead.
The Habs pushed back to try and tie the game, but they couldn’t solve Rask. Then the Bruins came back the other way, and DeBrusk was left open in front for a 3-1 Boston lead as he slipped by Cousins who had been trying to cover him.
Price was pulled with 2:30 to go in the game. However, a miscommunication with two minutes left resulted in too many men against the Canadiens. This effectively ended any chance the Habs had of coming back. It was a good effort for forty minutes, but they couldn’t get it done in the third once again, as they dropped their eighth straight.
HabsWorld Habs Three Stars
First Star – Joel Armia
For the second straight game, Armia was the Habs best forward. He opened the scoring again for the Canadiens. Similar to Saturday, he used his size to his advantage, and generated chances for himself and his linemates.
Stats: 1G, +1, 7 SOG, 18:44 TOI
Second Star – Ben Chiarot
In Mete’s absence, Chiarot was called upon to play an increased role. He played a tough, physical game and punished the Bruins forwards. He also joined the rush several times in an attempt to take the lead in the third period.
Stats: +1, 3 SOG, 29:26 TOI
Third Star – Carey Price
Through two periods, Price put up his best performance in a while. He was tracking the puck well and appeared to know where the puck was going before the shooter did. Unfortunately, a lack of goal support and a couple breakdowns in the third prevented him from picking up the win.
Stats: 3 GA, 31 saves
Honourable Mention – Brett Kulak
In his return to the lineup, Kulak was barely noticed throughout the night. This was a good thing for a defenceman with a tough road matchup. He did a good job of holding his own and not giving anything up while playing some tough minutes.
Stats: 1 SOG, 19:36 TOI