Every once in a while, the Hockey Gods answer your prayers. Tonight, they were listening as millions of fans wanted to see the Boston Bruins beat the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre.
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The Boston Bruins have been in a bit of a slump. They lost their last three games against mediocre or bad teams, and they needed a big bounce back win in Montreal to stop the bleeding and keep the team in third place in the Atlantic Division.
The Black and Gold did not disappoint. The Bruins played some technically solid hockey. They also played one of their most physical games of the season. While the Bruins-Habs rivalry seems to have cooled recently, it once again got white-hot in snowy Montreal.
The fans can thank Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin for tying his best to restart the rivalry. While most of his hits were legal, they were classic Emelin. Try (while not trying) to injure an opposing player knowing that most players won’t attack him due to all the metal parts keeping his head together.
Torey Krug got into the act as well tonight. He laid his own solid, legal hit on Andrew Shaw after an Emelin hit on David Pastrnak. Shaw briefly left the game due to Krug’s hit. The Bruins defenseman ended up in a brief but spirited tilt with Brendan Gallagher after the hit.
The referees also did their part to fan the rivalry. One of the linesmen blew a play dead after the Canadiens made an error giving the B’s a 2-on-1 in their offensive zone. At best, it was poor judgment. At worst, it’s the kind of stupid call that gets a ref hauled before a board of review. The refs seemed to miss calls that would have benefited the Bruins. At this point, I’m not sure if it was gross negligence or bias, but those refs need to be held accountable.
The Bruins were forced to go on the penalty kill five times against the Habs. Two of the five calls against them were questionable at best. The B’s shook off the ghosts of penalty kills past and stuffed Montreal all five times. (They’ve now stopped seventeen straight power plays.) The Bruins only had a single power play opportunity against Montreal.
The Boston Bruins had a chance to try out their new lines tonight, and they did a good job. All four lines performed adequately, and did their best to pepper Carey Price, one of the best goalies in the game.
The Bruins got themselves on the board in the second period when birthday boy (24th) Austin Czarnik got his third of the year past Price. It was his first goal in 17 games. The third line looked like the most improved Bruins line on the ice tonight.
It took 57 minutes for the Canadiens to tie it up (Paul Byron does seem to have the Bruins number this year. He’s put in a goal in all three games against the Bruins.) at one. There were some close calls for the B’s in the final moments, but they held firm and earned the point for the regulation tie.
Ryan Spooner was tonight’s hero of the game. Spooner came up the ice with Torey Krug and was able to get the puck past Price. It was Spooner’s first goal in 15 games. Montreal has only lost three times at home this season, and having the B’s be one of the teams must certainly stick in the craw of Habs fans.
Tuukka Rask needed to play one of his best games of the season, and he did. He stopped 29 of 30 shots on net, and was magnificent throughout the game.
The Bruins now head to Pittsburgh to take on the red-hot Penguins.