Montreal versus Boston. Tuukka Rask versus Carey Price. Shea Weber versus Zdeno Chara. The match up had all the ingredients necessary for an exciting game.
The game began fairly well for the Habs, Torrey Mitchell displaying his ability as a defender, even without his stick, and Zach Redmond and Nathan Beaulieu showing just how good they are at breaking the puck out of their own end.
With just about five minutes gone in the first, the two teams traded chances, Carey Price making a save, and Artturi Lehkonen and Andrew Shaw getting a chance on the other.
At 6:56, Adam McQuaid took a hooking penalty against Paul Byron, but unfortunately, the power play had a hard time establishing any kind of offensive zone pressure. Once they did establish pressure, Lehkonen made a beautiful pass to Brendan Gallagher, and Nathan Beaulieu missed the wide open net on the rebound.
Brad Marchand took a second Boston hooking call against Shea Weber at 10:02, and the Canadiens got a do-over on the power play — which sadly did not go much better than the first, though Mitchell, Paul Byron, and Sven Andrighetto had a very strong shift to end the power play.
In case there was any fear of the rivalry between the two teams dying out, Alexei Emelin stapled David Pastrnak to the boards, and Andrew Shaw got rocked with about 6:20 left to go as Torey Krug stepped up at the blue line. Shaw went straight to the locker room afterwards.
Emelin hit on Pastrnak and Krug hit on Shaw: pic.twitter.com/VcW5Lf42mS— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) December 13, 2016
Then an unlikely pair of fighters dropped the gloves as Krug and Gallagher tangled just past the 15 minute mark. Though there weren’t many punches thrown, Gallagher got the take-down.
The pile-on continued as Alexander Radulov and Kevan Miller tangled, and were sent to the box.
The period came to an end with shots 8-7 for Montreal, the score tied at 0, and 18 minutes of penalties already assessed.
Shaw was not on the bench to start the second period, which opened with 1:34 of 4-on-4.
Less than a minute in, Paul Byron flashed his wheels, and forced Joe Morrow to take a penalty, putting the Habs on a 4-on-3 for 30 seconds. In good news, Shaw returned to the ice, the bad news, the Habs remained unable to capitalize on the man advantage. cShaw and Lehkonen combined again for another beautiful chance at the Bruins’ net at about the eleven minute mark, followed closely by a great shift by the Byron-Mitchell-Gallagher line. Pastrnak rang the post, and then Rask absolutely robbed Plekanec going the other way after a dizzying stretch of back and forth hockey.
Eleven minutes into the period, Krug took another hooking penalty against Brian Flynn, and the Habs had their best power play of the game, getting four shots off on the advantage. But they failed yet again to make the Bruins pay for their indiscipline.
Sadly, it would be the Bruins who struck first, as Austin Czarnik got in on an odd man rush for a birthday goal just over a minute before the end of the period.
The first seven minutes or so of the period were fairly uneventful, until Alexei Emelin laid down a beautiful hip check on Marchand, completely turn-styling him, to the great delight of the Bell Centre faithful.
Emelin takes our Marchand and continues to single-handedly reignite the rivalry. pic.twitter.com/4RhMgZCJxz— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) December 13, 2016
The game, which had already been a rather cantankerous affair, heated up a few more degrees as Shaw tangled with a Bruin, and shortly thereafter, David Backes hi-sticked Andrei Markov, sending the Habs to yet another largely fangless power play.
Following the power play, the Canadiens had a few really good shifts, especially from the third line, but were unable to solve Rask.
With 3:12 left, the hard work of the third line payed off, and Paul Byron got his tenth of the year to tie the game up. Byron almost got a second with a minute to go, all by himself, but Rask made the save, and the game went to over time.
Because it’s the Habs, Mitchell and Byron started against Marchand and Bergeron, and then the most hilarious sequence of events ensued as Rask charged out to meet the racing Byron and Mitchell, the later of whom nearly collided with the Bruins’ goalie. Then Pastrnak bowled into Price, and puck, Pastrnak and Price all went into the net. The goal was disallowed for goaltender interference after review.
3:20 into OT, Ryan Spooner got past Radulov and sneaked the puck past Carey Price. Though there was a review of the play, the Canadiens fell 2-1 to Boston for the first time this year.
Despite the loss, the Habs played fairly well (power plays aside), coming out the winners in the shot battle, as well as in scoring chances and high danger scoring chances.
Montreal remains on top of the NHL, but Price will have to wait for win number 250.
- Paul Byron had a very good game, as did Artturi Lehkonen, both getting some good chances, and Lehkonen being easily the Habs’ best forward in the early going.
- Nathan Beaulieu had another good night, and he and Redmond continue to provide some much needed puck movement. He was third in ice time, coming in behind Alexander Radulov and Shea Weber, including 3:03 on the power play (third behind Weber and Markov). Now if only he could finish on some of those chances!
- The Habs’ power play was pretty abysmal, getting some shots, yes, but not spending any very meaningful time with pressure. They clearly miss Galchenyuk.
- Andrew Shaw took quite the beating over the course of the game, but still managed to have a fairly good outing.
- It would have been especially nice for Price to get his 250th win against the Bruins, but there’ll be plenty of other chances.
- The Boston/Montreal rivalry is back! Boy, did I forget how much I hate Boston!