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Canadiens vs Bruins recap: The power play lifts the Habs to a come-from-behind victory

With a little help from their power play, the Habs managed a late-game comeback against their heated rivals.

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a strong win at home against the New York Islanders earlier in the week, the Habs looked to finish their stretch of four games in seven nights off on a positive note against the hated Boston Bruins.

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Image credit: HockeyStats.ca

They managed to do just that.

But it was close.

The first goal of the game came early, after the Habs went down short-handed; the result of a close too many men call. Patrice Bergeron whistled a one-timer towards the net, beating Mike Condon after the puck deflected off the skate of Loui Eriksson.

That would stand up as the only marker of the period, with the Bruins taking a 1-0 lead into the break after failing to convert on two more power plays. It wasn't all bad for the Habs in the first, however, as they controlled much of the play when not short-handed.

Things would even up, however, as the second period opened. David Krejci went to the box for a hooking minor, giving the Habs their first man advantage of the game. The Canadiens' power play unit would make the league's worst penalty kill pay, as Tomas Plekanec wired the puck into the net on a centering feed from Brendan Gallagher.

Almost eight minutes later the Bruins would restore their one-goal lead with Frank Vatrano potting his first career goal on just his third shot in the NHL.

It appeared as though the Habs tied things up again in the third when Plekanec put the puck in for the second time on the night, but it was not so. Initially called a goal on the ice, Claude Julien used his coach's challenge to review the play. The refs reversed the call, citing Gallagher for goaltender interference before the goal.

The Habs would even things up for real minutes later, however, as Alex Galchenyuk sent a puck in front from the side of the goal. Lars Eller was there to get to it, scoring his fifth goal of the season and making it a 2-2 game.

A power play opportunity allowed David Desharnais to give the Habs their first lead of the game with just over a minute to play, pushing the puck past Jonas Gustavsson after Galchenyuk generated a rebound out in front. Max Pacioretty would seal the deal and give the Canadiens the win, sending the puck into the empty net for a 4-2 victory.

Overall, it was a game from which the Habs will be able to take away some positives.

Having struggled in the first period as a result of three consecutive penalties, the Canadiens took control of possession for much of the game thereafter, closing things out with a 56% CF%. Over the course of the entire evening the Habs were the better team at even strength, and it paid off in the end.

It was a big night for the second line, or at least the players formerly known as the second line. Eller's third-period marker sparked the comeback, hopefully foreshadowing good things to come for the under-utilized unit, which has been in a state of flux with regards to their right wing of late.

Only Brian Flynn had less ice time than Galchenyuk, who was solid despite the fact with two points. Both Eller and Galchenyuk saw more shifts as the game went on, which they will hope carries over into the next game.

In a game that once again saw them play mostly defensively, the Torrey Mitchell trio was dependable. Paul Byron, Flynn, and Mitchell, made up three of the top four Habs in terms of 5v5 CF%, continuing to drive the puck up the ice fairly efficiently.

Jeff Petry and Alexei Emelin quietly had strong games as well, though it won't show up on the scoresheet. Each had their share of moments, with Emelin specifically pleasing the crowd after welcoming Vatrano to the NHL with a thunderous hit. Petry and Emelin both played heavy defensive minutes, seeing nearly a quarter of their total minutes on the penalty kill in this game, which allowed just one goal on five attempts.

Worth noting is an incident that took place in the final seconds of the game, as Nathan Beaulieu received a match penalty after cross-checking Zac Rinaldo up high. That may be something to keep an eye on, as Beaulieu could potentially face further discipline.

Once again, Mike Condon was brilliant when he had to be. The rookie netminder improved his record to 6-0-1 after turning aside 29 shots on the evening for a .935 SV%. Montreal's goaltending situation should be cleared up in the coming days as we await an update on the status of Carey Price, but Condon has proven to be a suitable replacement with his unbelievable performances over the past week.

Having played a lot of hockey as of late, the Habs will be grateful for these three days off. The team is next in action on Wednesday when they will look to keep things rolling as they hit the road to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins — a team that has been on fire in their own right. Puck drop for that match-up is scheduled for 7:30 PM EST.