Standing 8 count
Goals and fists go flying as Bruins belt Montreal
At 12:36 of last night’s second period, with the Bruins holding a 5-3 lead, Brad Marchand had no idea the play had been called offside when he slammed James Wisniewski into the end boards.
And Marchand had absolutely zero clue that his actions would trigger a sequence that saw Tim Thomas sprinting from one end of TD Garden to the other, ready to engage Carey Price in what would be both goalies’ first NHL fight.
“It was getting into an outnumbered situation,’’ said Thomas, called to duty when Price left his crease to join the jostling. “That’s what I was thinking when I was getting down there. He was more than willing to fight. I had this big old plan. I was going to grab his right, then I was going to throw lefts, because I know he’s bigger and taller than me and has the reach on me. I thought I could do a better job of throwing lefts than him. When we went to grab, he got a good hold of my right arm and I got nothing. So then I was like, ‘Now what do I do?’ He’s got a big right cocked and ready to come.’’
The showdown, which ended when Price hauled down Thomas and got his jersey over his head, highlighted an evening of ill tempers. Nathan Horton (goal, four assists) and P.K. Subban went at each other all night. Andrew Ference threw down with Travis Moen. Johnny Boychuk repeatedly cuffed Jaroslav Spacek. Gregory Campbell fed Tom Pyatt with a string of lefts. Benoit Pouliot decked David Krejci with a right hand that had the Bruins center icing his lower lip after the game.
And, oh yeah, there was an 8-6 Bruins win amid all the belligerence (187 combined penalty minutes).
“It looked like back in the day in the ’70s and ’80s when there were those rivals,’’ Milan Lucic (two goals) said of the hatred. “I’m sure [assistant coach] Doug Jarvis knows all about those. He was in the middle of a lot of them. We’re just happy that we were able to get that win. They’ve been a tough opponent for us lately. We’d lost eight of our last nine before tonight. Most of all, we’re just happy to get those two points and keep getting up in the standings.’’
Ever since the nastiness of Lucic squaring off repeatedly with Mike Komisarek in 2008-09, there had been an easing of the bad blood between the clubs. Things got testy on Dec. 16 when Krejci threw down with Michael Cammalleri in the first NHL fight for both skilled players. On Jan. 8, tempers flared after Max Pacioretty shoved Zdeno Chara at the conclusion of Montreal’s 3-2 overtime win.
Last night, the kettle was screaming at full boil.
“It’s a rivalry you want to compete in and you want to beat each other,’’ said Michael Ryder (two goals). “We don’t want the other team to have the best of us. For Montreal, we knew it was a big game. We knew we had to be emotionally involved. A couple games against these guys, we haven’t done that. Tonight, we wanted to do it. I think we did.’’
Five seconds after Lucic scored his first to give the Bruins a 5-3 edge, Marchand’s check ignited the powder keg. Brian Gionta crashed into Marchand, which brought all 10 skaters together. Then when Price got too close to one pile, Thomas joined the fun. Briefly, when Thomas missed with a lunge and Price had his right fist at the ready, the Boston goalie acknowledged thinking of Brent Johnson one-punching Rick DiPietro and breaking the ex-Terrier’s face.
“Only a little bit when I didn’t get the arm I wanted to get,’’ said Thomas. “He had a good grip on my arm and was free to do it with the big right. The thought crossed my mind that I don’t want to be DiPietro.’’
By the time every piece of equipment was gathered, six Bruins were stuffed into the penalty box, creating a clown-car effect.
“Half of us couldn’t even sit down, we had so many guys in there,’’ said Marchand, who scored one of two goals (Dennis Seidenberg netted the other) in a 12-second span in the first period. “Especially when guys stick up for each other like we did, everyone’s getting in there and it’s good. It’s a good feeling when you’re sitting in the box.’’
The Bruins, up, 6-4, after 40 minutes, saw the Canadiens turn it into a one-goal game when Pacioretty netted a power-play goal at 7:06 of the third. At 9:18, after Zach Hamill drew an interference call on David Desharnais, Ryder’s power-play goal was waved off. It was ruled that Marchand had interfered with Price, when replays showed that he was knocked into the goalie by Yannick Weber. But Ryder gave the Bruins the cushion they needed with a PPG at 10:01 to make it 7-5.
If the game was over by then, the hate was not. At 17:06, after Horton and Subban clashed, Krejci and Pouliot squared off. At 19:19, Ference, Thornton, and Boychuk were nabbed for fighting. At 19:35, Adam McQuaid tried to goad Pacioretty into a fight and was tagged with a roughing double-minor.
“As players, we all had fun in tonight’s game,’’ Lucic said. “I think the fans definitely had a lot of fun watching tonight’s game. We were able to play with a lot of emotion. We were able to keep our heads on straight to get that win. That’s the most important thing.’’
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.