Tonight was the seven hundred and eighteenth match up between perennial Cup contenders and hard rivals the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens. It’s hard not to acknowledge the history of two franchises that have been fighting (sometimes figuratively, sometimes quite literally) each other for a century. This was the first of four games to be played against the teams this year, and expectations were high. Whomever won this game would be taking the lead not only in the Northeast Division, but the entire Eastern Conference.
Boston (6-1-1) was relying on our new ‘old reliable’ goaltender Tuukka Rask. Rask, who was going into this game with a 5-1-1 (1 SO)record, a 2.10 GAA, and a .919 save percentage was counted on early for making great, and the occasional outstanding save against a younger and faster Montreal squad. The first period found Boston playing more defense then usual, and they were able to hold the Habs scoreless for that entire first period. The only goal scored at all by Montreal was by a shot on goal by PK Subban, who got a lucky deflection by Rich Peverley. Tuukka stopped the other twenty giving him his sixth win, and the first star of the game honors.
Montreal was aggressive early and often, and playing at home gave them an edge you can feel watching it on television. The Habs crease policeman was Carey Price, and his numbers looked even better than Tuukka’s. Price, with a 6-1-0, a 1.7 GAA, and a .938 save percentage proved he was every bit up to the task tonight stuffing every attempt the Bruins threw at him in the first two periods.
The Bruins that looked tired and sluggish at the end of the second period were not the same Bruins that came out of the tunnel at the start of the third. Coach Claude Julien made some impromptu line changes to reflect playing style and the holes in their current roster. (Brad Marchand, Dan Paille, and Shawn Thornton were all out with injuries.) The line swapping and whatever the coach said worked and paid immeadeate dividends. Fourteen seconds into the third, a lovely close up pass from David Krejci found Tyler Seguin at the net, and he got it past Price to tie it up 1-1. Tyler Seguin had found his hands at last, and his relief and joy was visible.
Two minutes later, a great combination from the Krejci line found another one get past Price to put it away for the Bruins. Montreal went from offense to defense and spent the first part of the third hiding out more in their zone. They got there nerve back near the end, but a late slashing call (even though it was a trip) by PK Subban on Chris Bourque put the Canadiens on their heels and they couldn’t recover.
The Boston Bruins are now 7-1-1, and their fifteen points put them out in front as the team to beat in the Northeast Division. This effort was achieved away, playing in their ancient enemy’s lair, with a P-Bruin fourth line and no Brad Marchand. The Bruins played one mediocre and one bad period and were still able to climb out of a defecit, and fight their way to a victory. It is a pity that Milan Lucic didn’t decorate the Bell Centre with a Hab though. It would have made the victory all the more perfect.