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Canadiens vs. Bruins game recap: Montreal loses to Boston for a third time in a week

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The Habs hung in on the scoreboard, but were outplayed in all aspects on Saturday night.

NHL: Boston Bruins at Montreal Canadiens Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens played their third game in eight days against the Boston Bruins, taking a 4-1 loss in what was a much more heated game than the meeting on Wednesday.

Brendan Gallagher was full of energy right from the drop of the puck, getting the Canadiens first shot on Tuukka Rask just 14 seconds in. He also threw multiple hits and had a brief confrontation with Brad Marchand by the benches.

The physicality of the games opening minutes continued with Artturi Lehkonen and Charlie McAvoy exchanging some hits early on. This set the tone for what was a very physical game.

Image credit: HockeyStats.ca

Play was relatively even early on in the period, with both teams having some opportunities but being unable to capitalize on them. Patrice Bergeron was a dominant force for the Bruins yet again, testing Carey Price multiple times in the opening period. As the opening 20 minutes progressed, the Canadiens showed signs of struggle as they tried to match the Bruins’ increasing level of play.

An exchanging of hits between Charles Hudon and David Backes resulted in the Canadiens first power play of the game, when Backes was called for hooking.

The power play featured beautiful puck-handling from Jonathan Drouin, but that was unable to generate a scoring chance. The final rush by David Schlemko also came up short as the power play generated just two shots.

The Canadiens followed their power play by going to the penalty kill when Hudon was in turn called for hooking. Price was able to fend of multiple Bruin shots, including a solid chace from David Pastrnak.

The rough play continued into the second period with both sides landing some hits. Gallagher continued to generate chances, firing a shot that hit Rask straight on. The line of Gallagher, Tomas Plekanec, and Lehkonen had one of the better shifts of the game, which was cut short when an offside was called against Gallagher, much to his chagrin.

With the game reaching its midpoint, a shot from Paul Byron was deflected, but he recovered quickly and tracked down the puck from McAvoy. He carried his newly won prize to the net and made the cross-ice pass to Max Pacioretty who fired it home, giving the Canadiens the lead and a boost.

The Canadiens new wave of energy was short-lived, however. An incredibly well angled shot from Pastrnak travelled parallel to the goal line and went in off Price’s far skate. The goal was assisted by Torey Krug and Bergeron.

The top line was buzzing again just moments later, with Krug being the beneficiary of their hard work, firing a perfect shot behind Price with assists going to Pastrnak and Marchand.

A slashing call against Pacioretty put Boston back on the power play, but Price made a number of saves to finish the penalty kill and bring an end to the period.

After allowing two goals in 40 seconds, the Canadienes had played the rest of the second with most of the wind having been taken out of their sails. Early in the third, Logan Shaw gave Montreal a chance at getting back onto even terms with the puck at the top of the crease, but he lost the puck on the deke and the chance went awry.

The forechecking of the Bruins was effective at controlling the Canadiens’ transition, while the Bergeron line continued to dominate Plekanec’s trio.

Montreal went back of the penalty kill after Jeff Petry was called for slashing against Ryan Spooner. Marchad was able to put the puck in the net on the power play, however it was called off on the grounds that Spooner had been offside on the entry into the zone.

Bryron’s speed and tenacity generated multiple scoring opportunities for Montreal as they attempted to tie the game. One came when he stole the puck from Krug, and outskated the Bruins to get in on goal, while another came in the form of a quick wraparound attempt that just wasn’t quite quick enough.

The Bruins scored a third goal with three minutes left to play. Price slid across the crease to make the initial save on Pastrnak, but couldn’t adjust his momentum in time to slide back and stop the rebound. Pastrnak was able to get his own rebound and score his second goal of the game.

Montreal pulled Price with a 90 seconds left. Backes mad an easy past to Riley Nash, to sent home the empty-netter, making the final score 4-1.

Thoughts

  • Paul Byron played great. He generated numerous opportunities and produced a primary assist. His speed and the chances it generates continues to be a highlight of watching Montreal play.
  • Montreal continues their habit of allowing goals against directly after getting one themselves. It is particularly frustrating as the team struggles with gaining momentum.
  • The Bruins’ top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak is one of the best in the league. So not being able to find a solution to them over three games is at least not a unique situation to the Canadiens....