Tonight one of the NHL’s oldest rivalries did battle at the Bell Centre where Montreal was looking to take top seed in the Northeast Division. However before the puck was dropped Habs Nation was put into a scare when Carey Price left warm-up early after taking a shot to the groin era a Lars Eller shot. Fortunately it was nothing more than a stinger and Price would be okay to make his third consecutive start. For Boston they were without the services of Brad Marchand who is out nursing a lower-body injury and tough guy Shawn Thornton out with a concussion leaving the Habs plenty of room to skate and utilize their speed, which is exactly what Montreal did in not just the opening minutes but for the majority of the opening 20 minutes. The score could have easily been 4-0 after the first six minutes but Tuukka Rask was there to shut the door when called upon and he was tested early. Shots were 11-4 in favour of the Habs after the first frame where we also saw Alexei Emelin add to his hit total as we were all expecting to see.
Hockey fans alike knew this would be a heated affair however this tilt only to this point really did not reflect the kind of battles these two squads have had in the past. In the second period Montreal’s strong puck possession and transition game was beginning to break down Boston’s defense and was also beginning to frustrate the Bruins, mainly Milan Lucic. Of course it does not take much to do so with Lucic as he plays a very physical game but his first penalty was due to not staying focused as he was called off for high-sticking. This would result in Montreal’s power play coming through once again after a few failed attempts with P.K Subban netting his first of the season and third point in as many games. Although the momentum had swayed into Montreal’s favour the shot total for the period was 11-5 Boston, making Carey Price work a little bit more than the four he faced in the opening frame.
With all the things that Montreal did right in the first 40 minutes was undone in just 2:05. Tyler Seguin notched his second of the season from David Krejci (6) and just 1:51 later Krejci would put the Bruins on top with a nice tip-in crashing the net just a slight step ahead of Tomas Plekanec. Assists credited to Lucic (3) and Seguin (4). This was one of Montreal’s many issues last season; one goal leads that were never padded. In fact once the Canadiens were staring down a 2-1 deficit their fire and intensity that was fuelling each player was just not there. Combine that with all of the big saves made by Rask in the first few minutes for the game were imperative to his team’s victory tonight. Boston did an exceptional job in shutting down Montreal’s third period push by keeping the puck to the outside and playing smart, conservative defensive-minded defense. Weird, it was that exact game plan that cost the Habs more than one win last season.
Overall, it would have been nice to at least grab a point tonight but they cannot dwell on tonight’s loss. Boston played offense for all of just over two minutes and Rask fit the bill bringing Montreal’s undefeated record of 5-0 at home to an end. Boston did not overpower them in any way that they used to but still found a way to beat Carey Price who has been almost unbeatable thus far this season. Each game this season is just as important as the next so all thoughts will now have to be directed to the Buffalo Sabres who will look to exact some revenge on the team that embarrassed them 6-1 in their last meeting.
GO HABS GO
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