The Montreal Canadiens went into Boston after eight straight days of no hockey, and played their worst game of the playoffs by leaps and bounds.
They were panicky with the puck, they lost battles, the couldn't maintain possession at even strength, they were constantly hemmed in their own zone, and they won.
The Canadiens won because Carey Price did things like this:
And the fact is, that assault of gifs doesn't even come close to capturing all the ridiculous insanity of what Carey Price brought to the table against the Boston Bruins on Thursday night. He was everywhere. Simply put, Price was phenomenal, and if he could see the puck, unbeatable.
The game itself was a non-stop onslaught by the Bruins, firing 89 pucks at the net at even strength, and getting more even strength shots (48) than the Canadiens managed shot attempts (47). Part of that is due to the Canadiens jumping out to an early lead on a powerplay goal by P.K. Subban, but score effects can only count for so much. That first powerplay was also a bit of a gift, with Dale Weise losing an edge and happening to be near a Bruin.
Rene Bourque doubled the lead in the second period, beating Tuukka Rask fivehole on a shot that on most nights, you would expect him to stop, even if it was a pretty good scoring chance.
In the third period, as expected, the Bruins roared back with goals from Reilly Smith and Torey Krug, but it was Rene Bourque's line once again that struck for the Habs, with Brian Gionta finding Francis Bouillon of all people, who wired a shot home top corner.
But again, the Bruins are a great, relentless team, and they came back on a rocket shot by Johnny Boychuk, who then proceeded to do the finger guns at the "unfiltered" crowd in TD Garden. I couldn't help but smirk when Hockey Night in Canada showed Boychuk's celebration, and Don Cherry didn't say a peep about it. I can only imagine the indignant outrage if Subban had done the same, but double standards and all that.
Into double overtime, after the Canadiens failed to capitalize on a powerplay for Dan Paille going knee on knee with Brendan Gallagher, Dale Weise forced Matt Bartowski into a holding call right in front of Rask, and it would be none other than Boston's "enemy number one" P.K. Subban, who for the first time in a very long time, scored with a slapshot from the point.
After Subban had won the game for Montreal, the Bruins faithful started to throw some beer cups at him, one of which hilariously bounced off his helmet.
That's cute and all, but when you throw beer at Subban, he reacts like this:
It's not like the game was all roses for the Habs, there were severe problems all night. Thomas Vanek is either injured or all of a sudden completely useless, Max Pacioretty was largely ineffective, Alexei Emelin is a human turnstile, and only two players on the Habs managed positive possession numbers, Rene Bourque and Lars Eller.
But let's focus on the positives for a second. This is by far the worst game the Canadiens will play in this series. That was not the team we saw in round 1 vs Tampa Bay, and we know that they can play Boston even. They've done it before, and will again.
There are going to be lineup adjustments, and don't be surprised to see Michael Bournival back in the lineup over Travis Moen, who struggled mightily and can't bring Bournival's speed and tenacious forechecking. Without Bournival in, Daniel Briere seemed a step behind the play.
The biggest positive though (outside of Price, which is obvious), was Eller's line. Eller had a 55.3% Corsi in the game, which is a solid performance in any game, but when he was off the ice, the Canadiens had a dismal 26.6% Corsi, which is just embarrassing. Even more impressive, is the line of Bourque, Eller, and Gionta took a whopping 17 defensive zone faceoffs, and just one, yes you read that correctly, one offensive zone faceoff. To put those kinds of numbers up, when the Canadiens were being dominated that badly, when your usage is that heavily skewed towards the defensive zone, is astonishing.
A win is a win, and the Canadiens only need 11 more.