Canadiens trip up Bruins
Two goals in third period send Montreal to victory
First Bruins-Canadiens tilt of the season. On home ice. Following a 7-4 come-from-behind win over Sidney Crosby and friends in Pittsburgh.
Surprisingly, there was hardly any sizzle to last night’s game at TD Garden — a 3-1 Boston loss — as 17,565 fans of both clubs wondered about the lack of pop from what are usually blood rivals.
Since Bruins coach Claude Julien assumed the helm in 2007-08 — an arrival that coincided with Milan Lucic’s rookie year — these heated matchups have barely been contained by the respective rinks.
There have been running feuds, the hottest between Lucic and Mike Komisarek, with supporting actors such as Tom Kostopoulos, Sergei Kostitsyn, Georges Laraque, and Francis Bouillon playing enemy roles to their Boston counterparts.
But aside from a few flareups, last night’s game barely tickled the needle on the emotional gauge.
“We just ran out of legs,’’ Julien said. “Progressively, our game got worse. We looked more and more tired.
“We had a fresh team waiting for you at home, a divisional game, a big game. They’re ready for us. I’m going to stand here and say our guys really wanted it bad enough. But when you don’t have your legs, the rest of your game falls apart as well.
“You can try and push your players all you want, but if they don’t have the legs, they don’t have the legs.’’
Once his team scored the go-ahead goal in the third period on the power play, Montreal coach Jacques Martin, always known for his defense-first approach, instructed his players to sit back and throttle the life out of any scoring chances. It was a formula that, combined with a club seemingly gassed from playing two games in two nights, resulted in a sleepy Black-and-Gold attack that did little to make Carey Price (34 saves) break a sweat.
“Didn’t seem like there was much flow to it at all,’’ said Lucic, who was on the helping end of his team’s only goal. “Basically, I think it came down to that they were able to capitalize on their power plays. We weren’t.’’
Late in the first period, it took heads-up playmaking by Lucic and a thread-the-hole shot by Zdeno Chara to beat Price and his efficient defense. After Patrice Bergeron caused a turnover inside the blue line, Lucic scooped up the puck and skated down the wall.
As Lucic ran out of room in front, he swung around the net and considered his options. He looked first to Bergeron and Nathan Horton, who had bulled their way to the front of the net.
But when Lucic realized there was no passing lane available to either linemate, he spotted Chara unmarked at the left point. Price exploded toward Chara to cut down the angle. But the Montreal netminder could do nothing to stop the screamer that Chara tucked under the crossbar, tying the game at 15:49.
“I saw Z streak in,’’ said Lucic. “We kind of made eye contact right before I made the pass. He got himself into position and I was able to find him. It was just a great shot on his part.’’
Chara’s goal wiped out a 1-0 Montreal lead. The Canadiens had taken the lead on a power play when P.K. Subban launched a one-timer that slithered through Tuukka Rask (38 saves). It was a shot Rask usually stops.
But the Bruins didn’t have enough juice to counter Montreal’s third-period rally, which started with Chara in the box for interference. It took a highlight play by Michael Cammalleri and Brian Gionta, two of Montreal’s most skilled forwards, to put the Canadiens ahead.
Cammalleri and Gionta had a two-on-one that Dennis Seidenberg tried to wipe out by hitting the deck to take away the side-to-side pass. But Cammalleri softly lifted a saucer pass over Seidenberg. Then Gionta swatted the midair puck past Rask at 0:29.
Prior to last night, the Bruins had not allowed more than one power-play goal in a game all season.
“It was a real good play,’’ said Seidenberg.
The Canadiens stretched their advantage at 10:30 of the third. After Mark Stuart couldn’t clear the rebound of an Andrei Kostitsyn shot, Scott Gomez swooped in and banked a shot off the right post.
The Bruins had only nine shots in the third period. Even the fourth line, which had been generating scoring chances off the rush and the cycle lately, couldn’t create any jam against the Canadiens.
“I was seeing the puck well, but in the third period, you saw shutdown hockey,’’ Price said. “It was the perfect road game.’’