Habs Win Streak Extended, Beat Bruins 4-2

Photo: AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

Photo: AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

Habs Win Streak Extended, Beat Bruins 4-2

The Habs win streak extended to 3 games in a row, Saturday night in Boston, as the team beat arch-rivals Bruins Saturday night.

The game began with a very strong showing from both teams, and until halfway through the second period, the game remained scoreless. Almost halfway through the second period, Brendan Gallagher – who had begun the first minute of the game with a double high-sticking minor – redeemed himself by putting the Canadiens on the board.

Carey Price was every superlative of “great” you can think of: square to the puck, no extraneous movements, just calm, cool, and collected, and was a huge part of the team’s win.

The game had all the hallmarks of this rivalry. There were numerous altercations, there were disputed (among fans) calls by the refs who either a) should have made a call, b) shouldn’t have made a call, c) made a call that was blatant diving, or d) made two bad calls on one play (depending on who you were rooting for, and which play you were watching).

There was also a 5-minute period of absolute heart-stopping play at the end of the game, very exciting, and making the win that much sweeter.

Here are the highlights.

First Period: Shots 13-6 Montreal

No goals in this period did not make it boring; the back-and-forth action, with more than double the shots Boston took on Price, the Habs hammered goaltender Anton Khudobin.

Despite going on the power play twice, the shots yielded nothing, but the Habs looked strong and ready to score at any time.

Second Period: Shots 9-8 Montreal

Goals: Brendan Gallagher (Max Pacioretty, Alex Galchenyuk), 11:41; Phillip Danault (Alexander Radulov, Greg Pateryn), 17:44

The game resumed after first intermission with both teams vying for that first, all-important goal. Brendan Gallagher netted it for the Habs. Racing down the ice, Alex Galchenyuk found the puck on a Boston giveaway, and passed it to Max Pacioretty, from the boards near the corner. Pacioretty passed it over to Gallagher, who was open for the shot. A one-timer beat Khudobin and opened the scoring for the game, putting the Habs at a solid psychological advantage.

It looked like this:

From there, the Habs kept up the pressure, and again it paid off when, with a little more than 2 minutes till the end of the second frame, Phillip Danault scored his first of the season.

It started behind the Habs net, when Greg Pateryn passed the puck to Alexander Radulov, who carried it down the ice. Skating in sync with him, to the left of the net, was Danault, who was watching intently for that pass. Radulov’s pass went between the reaching sticks of two Boston players, but found Danault’s blade, and the perfect shot beat Khudobin for a 2-0 Habs lead.

The period was anything but uneventful: just before the 15-minute mark, there was a scrimmage, sending Alexei Emelin to the box for 2 minutes on a roughing call, and Boston’s Dominic Moore to the box for a double roughing minor.

It was inevitable the third period would be typical of Montreal-Boston matches in the past.

Third Period: Shots Tied, 7-7

Goals:

  • Dominic Moore (Tim Schaller, Noel Acciari), 5:34; Ryan Spooner (PPG; David Backes, David Krejci), 8:09
  • Paul Byron (SHG; Shea Weber, Andrei Markov), 7:32; Torrey Mitchell (Unassisted), 12:47

Early in the third period, Dominic Moore cut the Habs’ lead by 1, when he scored on a 2-on-1 coming into the Habs’ zone. It was 2 minutes after that when Alexei Emelin got sent to the box on a delay-of-game penalty, and the Bruins had a chance to even the score.

But leave it to Paul Byron – last season’s short-handed-goal champ – to score a shortie seconds into the penalty kill.

Off the face-off, as players from both teams battled for the puck, it hit the glass and bounced onto the ice. With the speed that is his reputation, Byron raced down the ice on a breakaway, never stopping until after the shot went into the net and he came around for the celebration with his teammates.

The celebration didn’t last long, though, as Ryan Spooner capitalized on their man-advantage and again brought the Bruins to within 1.

For almost 5 minutes, Boston pressured the Habs in giving up another goal, but Price was a brick wall.

And Torrey Mitchell, showing what a tough guy he truly is, shot the puck into the net even as he fell to the ice as a result of David Krejci‘s high stick to Mitchell’s face. He scored, and drew the penalty. And while the Habs didn’t manage to score on the power play, they kept Boston from scoring chances for 2 minutes.

A controversial pair of calls a couple of minutes later, when Radulov seemed to have been tripped by Riley Nash, but was called for diving. Had he not been penalized, the Habs – still on the Krejci penalty – might have scored in the 5-on-3, and would have had another 2 minutes to try. But there are those who do not even feel Nash should have been penalized for the trip.

You can see the video here; in my opinion, Radulov should not have gone to the box. He had the puck, caught an edge, and fell to the ice, instantly attempting to get the puck to David Desharnais. Looking at it closely, Nash didn’t seem to be guilty of the slash either.

Things got tense in the last 5 minutes of the game, when the Bruins pulled Khudobin. Almost immediately, Shea Weber was penalized for interference when Brad Marchand went careening into the net behind Carey Price, at 17:59. To make matters even worse, Jeff Petry got a delay-of-game penalty a minute later, giving the Bruins a 6-on-3 advantage for the last minute of the game. (It’s still being disputed as to the validity of that call – some who believe the puck hit the netting and should have been whistled dead)

But the Habs kept the Bruins out, not even allowing them to come within 1 goal and get any momentum back, which truly speaks to the skills of the players, the teamwork among them, and of course, Carey Price.

Some Thoughts

This is, as we are reminded, the 9th straight win in Boston for the Habs; the Bruins have not beaten the Canadiens since January 12, 2012. No matter how fierce the rivalry – and it is definitely a challenge to go against this team each time – the Canadiens are strong when they face the Bruins, and it shows.

Brendan Gallagher was interviewed after the game, and was asked – as is the norm these days – about keeping focused in these good times when last season is still looming large. It seemed to me that he looked frustrated with the question being asked over and over. But his answer was perfect:

“A strong start does not mean anything if you don’t finish it off.”

He said the team is not even looking at the standings right now, it’s so early in the season.

But we fans are; and right now, the Habs are a point ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning, sitting in top spot in the Eastern Conference. They also lead the Atlantic Division.

And let’s take a look at the League overall:

Screen capture: NHL.com

Screen capture: NHL.com

Yes, it’s early. But thus far, the Habs have scored 3 or more goals in each of the 5 games they have played thus far, and in their one loss, recorded a point for losing in the shootout.

Gallagher is right, of course. The start has to be matched by the finish.

But something feels good this season; the lines are working, there is chemistry on the ice, and it is translating to strong, productive hockey. And with players like Paul Byron and Alexander Radulov – who are leaving it all out on the ice, every single night, the team is clearly feeding off that kind of energy and coming through every game so far.

So never say never. There’s nothing wrong with an optimistic fan base.

A note of importance: earlier Saturday afternoon, it was announced that former coach Jacques Demerswho had just made an appearance at the Habs’ home opener – suffered a second stroke at his home, and was in hospital. He has been reported to be stable, and is conscious, but no other news has been released. Please keep him in your thoughts.

Edited Update: Jacques Demers did not have another stroke; over the weekend, it was announced that his hospitalization was due to an infection, and he was released on Saturday. He remains at home, and not in any danger.

Next game will be on Monday evening, when the Habs host the Philadelphia Flyers at the Bell Centre. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m.

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