At the start of the first period, Montreal came at the Bruins aggressively, attempting to match the rugged style of their rivals. That approach saw Alex Galchenyuk throwing several hits, and being hit, to begin the game. It also manifested in a Jiri Sekac hit from behind on Simon Gagne. It was just the seventeenth hit of the season (in his fifteenth game) for Sekac, who usually asserts himself with strong puck-handling and forechecking skills, and the uncharacteristic physicality sent the Bruins to an early powerplay.
Boston's five-man unit had a tough time getting into the zone on that powerplay because of a great job by P.K. Subban thwarting their zone entries at the blueline.
Unlike Sekac, Alexei Emelin is known for his physical talents, and he used them to great effect to separate Reilly Smith from the puck with a big hit in the neutral zone, sending the puck ahead for P.-A. Parenteau. Parenteau fought hard to retrieve it and drew a penalty when two Bruins prevented him from doing so.
The ensuing powerplay was fairly uneventful for the most part, with the majority of the passing plays taking place on the perimeter and not generating many avenues to get pucks to the net. At the end of that powerplay, however, Brendan Gallagher quickly tapped the puck back to the point off a faceoff win by Tomas Plekanec, and Andrei Markov beat Tuukka Rask through a screen to score the first powerplay goal on the road for the Canadiens this season. The goal was the 100th of Markov's career.
After that milestone tally, the physical play returned as Dale Weise and Gregory Campbell got into a
spin fight that saw Campbell land a solid shot before Weise ended the tilt with one of his own.
The first period saw a continuation of the same breakout philosophy we've witnessed all season, with either panicked defensive zone clears off the glass or stretch passes that miss targets going for icings. The Canadiens committed four icings in the period (plus four in the second) and were unable to muster much of an even strength challenge against the Bruins. On the Sportsnet broadcast Craig Simpson remarked on one failed stretch pass that it was a "set play" off the faceoff to send Galchenyuk on an offensive chance, which might work if that trick play wasn't the default team strategy. A fake punt can be a great call in footballl, but if you try to use it on every third-/fourth-and-long situation, the other team is going to be prepared for it.
Midway through the second period, P.K. Subban broke up yet another pass with an active stick, this time in the defensive slot, that sent the line of Gallagher, Plekanec, and Galchenyuk on an odd man rish from their own zone. They passed the puck back and forth in the neutral zone and carried it over the offensive blueline, where the play culminated in a blocked shot from Gallagher being sent home by Plekanec, who now has eight goals and seventeen points on the season.
The Canadiens had a chance to extend the lead late in the second when they were made aware that Patrice Bergeron had broken his stick in the defensive zone. With the Bruin defender playing at half defensive capacity, the Canadiens controlled the play for several minutes in the zone. Unfortunately, they didn't have their best offensive defencemen on the ice to take advantage of the situation, instead having Mike Weaver lined up on the right side in front of Bergeron. The Canadiens had several attempted shots--including three by Weaver--but none actually reached the net. Bergeron jumped on top of the puck late in the play and was called for delay of game. The Canadiens were unable to capitalize on that man-advantage to end the period.
After his first period hits and his second period assist, Alex Galchenyuk was still feeling feisty and got into a crease battle with both Torey Krug and Tuukka Rask. Galchenyuk ending up going into the end board dasher face-first in a fight with Krug and was lucky to not have been injured on the play. I think we'd all prefer to see Galchenyuk using his hands to break ankles, not noses.
Patrice Bergeron had been called for a slashing penalty immediately before that lightweight bout occurred, giving Montreal another opportunity to put the game out of reach on the powerplay. The man advantage again suffered from too much perimeter passing with no effort to get the puck to the middle of the ice. "I don't understand the set-up," Simpson chided after yet another ineffectual Habs powerplay with no clear strategy for setting up shots. He wasn't the only person with that opinion of the Canadiens' special teams play.
The following portion of the period was played in safe mode as the Canadiens retreated to the defensive zone and hoped the Bruins wouldn't score. Predictably, the result was several scoring opportunities for Boston from their most inspired offensive push of the game. Carey Price was able to shut that effort down and ultimately shut the Bruins out for the first time at the TD Garden.
The game was the first as a Canadien for Bryan Allen. It wasn't a particularly good debut for the new acquisition, achieving an even strength Corsi-for percentage of 29%, although that wasn't a team-low value. He Bouilloned the puck into the shin pads of Simon Gagne in the first period that would have resulted in a two-on-one against if not for some fortuitous interference by the linesman to get in the way. I also saw him looking confused while attempting to defend on a penalty kill early in the third. That could have been the result of not having a firm grasp of the defensive strategy on the PK, but for a player whose main attribute is steady defensive play, it shouldn't have been much of an issue.
Allen and his new team will be in New York tonight to play their eighth game in thirteen days before having a four-day break. After recently having a six-game win streak broken by Pittsburgh, Montreal will attempt to win their third game in a row, and ninth of their last ten.