The Canadiens were in need of a rebound victory. With one of their most dominant performances of the season, they got just that.
An early, deflected goal from the stick of Mike Cammalleri gave the Devils the early advantage, but the rest of the first period was all Habs. When an errant stick drew blood from P.K. Subban in the second period, the ensuing double minor allowed Michel Therrien's troops to finally take charge.
Three consecutive powerplay goals, including two on that double-minor, did justice to Montreal's dominance, and gave them a lead they would not forfeit.
Tonight, the Habs will be harder-pressed to open up the type of possession chasm they dug between themselves and their opponents last night. With a chance to sweep a high stakes season series, however, they should be highly motivated to do so.
How to Watch
Start time: 7:30 PM ET
In the Canadiens region (French): RDS
In Canada (English): Sportsnet
In the United States: NBCSN
Elsewhere: NHL GameCenter, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
|48.5||Score-Adjusted Fenwick %*||51.6|
|1.21||5v5 Goal Ratio||1.09|
*Before last night's games.
Know Your Enemy
The Boston Bruins team that takes the ice in Beantown this evening will be a little different than the one that Montreal has beaten three times in a row.
For the first time since October, the Habs will face their bitter rivals while having to contend with their opponent's best offensive centre. David Krejci, hampered by a hip injury, has taken part in a just one game against Montreal this year, but will be available tonight. The Czech-born centre has 23 points in 36 career games against the Canadiens, and is the linchpin in the Bruin offence. Reilly Smith and Milan Lucic should be far more dangerous with Krejci there to set them up.
The Bruin defence is also in much better shape, as the three pairs resemble the form the coaching staff would have envisioned before the season. The Bruins have used ten defenders so far this year, and the Habs have seen a number of AHL fill-ins in their three wins so far.
The emptying of the team's injury ward has corresponded to success on the ice, too. Injuries and lackluster play left a team that frequently contends for the best possession numbers in the league trending at 48% near the end of 2014. With a healthy roster, those numbers have climbed back to 52%, a figure which befits a team that is still among the contenders of the Eastern Conference.
Last Time Out
The Habs last game against the Bruins was a 2-0 shutout victory in late November. On the strength of a powerplay goal, and then a second goal scored by Tomas Plekanec in transition, the Habs jumped out to their two goal advantage before the game was 50% complete. As one might have expected, a lead of more than one goal was more than enough to entice the Canadiens to retreat into a defensive shell. Carey Price made good on that wager, holding the fort and earning the clean sheet.
That game was significant not only in that it marked the Habs third straight victory over Boston in 2014-15, but in that it was also Bryan Allen's first game since coming to Montreal from Anaheim. The troubling symptoms of that failed experiment were present right from the start, as the plodding rearguard nearly gave up a first period breakaway to Simon Gagne, and generally looked lost throughout the evening. Perhaps the most positive aspect of the negative for negative trade that brought Allen to the Canadiens organization is that Marc Bergevin had the good sense to cut his losses on a player who wasn't working out. Accordingly, it looks like Allen's experience in this outstanding rivalry will also be his last.
So, as we reach the final regular season match-up between these two teams with #6 playing in Hamilton, we can optimistically observe that the Habs will ice one fewer confounding roster decision than they may have otherwise. With a little bit of luck, perhaps momentum from last night will be enough to overcome all of the others.