Home test is failed
But Canadiens insist they're not beaten yet
MONTREAL - They knew they were facing a proud opponent. They knew the Canadiens would come out hard last night, and sure enough, they did.
The Bruins weathered the expected early storm and the Bell Centre scoreboard read 1-1 after 20 minutes, thanks to Phil Kessel's goal late in the period. Boston went on to thump the Canadiens, 4-2, to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven first-round playoff series.
"It was nice to come in here tied [after the first] because they deserved the win on that period, I think," said Bruins forward Shawn Thornton.
Christopher Higgins scored 11:52 into the game to give Montreal its first lead of the series and the sellout crowd of 21,273 was on the edge of their seats throughout the period, willing the Habitants to add to their margin.
"Well, I think it is hard to maintain that level over a full period or an extended period of time, but somewhere in there often what will happen is there could be an extra goal scored," said Canadiens general manager/coach Bob Gainey, who likened Kessel's goal to a "punch to the midsection."
"We may have been able to create a two-goal lead, we may have been able to create a chance or two on the power play, which then leads you to extra chances, and those things didn't happen," Gainey said. "If we could have left that period with an advantage, that would have been better."
Thornton then showed his nose for the net when he beat Canadiens goalie Carey Price at 3:36 of the second with a shot inside the left post for his first goal in 25 playoff games.
Montreal tied it, 2-2, less than 2 minutes later on Yannick Weber's goal, but former Canadien Michael Ryder drove a dagger into the heart of the Centre's atmosphere when he pounced on a rebound of Dennis Wideman's shot from the right point to put the Bruins up to stay with 2:39 left in the second.
"You've got to give [the Canadiens] credit, they came out hard and they pressured us more than they have in the past," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "It took us a while to more or less adjust, but we weathered the storm, we didn't really panic and eventually kind of got better as the game went on."
The Canadiens' first-period effort came despite entering the game without defenseman Mathieu Schneider and left wing Alex Tanguay, who were both sidelined by upper-body injuries.
Montreal was already without top defenseman Andrei Markov, who has yet to return since missing the last four games of the season because of a lower-body injury.
With the Bruins on the verge of winning their first playoff series in 10 years, the Canadiens are staring at the possibility of their 100th season ending in a sweep at the hands of their sworn rivals.
"That's the reality. It's a fact that we're down, 3-0, we're being tested and we can't look too far ahead," Saku Koivu said. "There's a game [tomorrow] and we don't have a choice to look at anything beyond that. At this point in the season you're not going to quit, you'll play to the end and see what the results are then."