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Canadiens @ Bruins game recap: A long December?

A better effort is still not good enough.

Montreal Canadiens v Boston Bruins Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Montreal Canadiens are probably starting to wonder what they have to do to win another game. In what was one of their best efforts through their now eight-game losing streak, it still wasn’t good enough as they allowed three third-period goals to the Boston Bruins, who turned a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 win at TD Garden in Boston on Sunday night.

It started with a bit of will and a bit of luck when Joel Armia stole the puck fired a backhand shot on Tuukka Rask that went off of Zdeno Chara’s stick and into the net. Under two minutes into the game, the Canadiens had a 1-0 lead.

For much of the next 45 minutes, it looked like that good fortune would take Montreal to victory. They skated with the Bruins, they had some of their best defensive coverage in the last few weeks, and were seeing chances get eaten up by Carey Price or going wide.

In the end, it was the Canadiens’ inability to extend their lead, and a deadly combination of untimely mistakes and penalties that would come back to haunt them.

Emotions got high late in the second period when Shea Weber, David Pastrnak, Brendan Gallagher, and Jake DeBrusk were in the middle of a scrum that was one of the more heated moments of the recent Boston-Montreal rivalry.

The Bruins would come out of the sequence with a power play, but the Canadiens held the fort and went into the second intermission still leading 1-0.

The Canadiens had several chances to extend their lead. Max Domi danced through the Bruins’ defence before his shot was saved by Rask. Brendan Gallagher took advantage of a Bruins turnover at the blue line to get a breakaway, but he too was stopped.

Throughout the losing streak, minutes of consistent effort were undone by flashes of ineptitude. This time, it was Gustav Olofsson’s turn to be beat.

Olofsson shouldn’t take all of the blame here. He was beat by Pastrnak who may be one of the best pure offensive talents in the NHL. He had Weber covering behind him, limiting the path Pastrnak could take to the net. He had Carey Price in position to stop the shot. Sometimes quality just beats you. Pastrnak’s shot was perfect; off the post and in.

The goal also didn’t lose Montreal the game. After all, it only made it 1-1. Olofsson, who played only 7:04 in the game, did not get another shift.

If Montreal was not in the middle of a seven-game losing streak, they may have been able to recover. Confidence is a funny thing. Boston controlled the moments immediately following the goal. The Canadiens did get some offensive-zone time afterward, but Nick Cousins took an offensive zone penalty.

Claude Julien was not happy with the call after the game, but that made no difference during it. Boston went to the power play, and for over 1:45 of the penalty the Canadiens held strong. Then, with David Krejci holding the puck at the half-wall, Phillip Danault cheated to cover the point shot. Artturi Lehkonen got to David Backes a fraction too late, and Backes fired the shot past Price for a 2-1 Boston lead.

Less than three minutes later, the Bruins doubled their lead. A passing play between Charlie Coyle and DeBrusk opened up a seam for DeBrusk to fire his shot past Price to make it 3-1.

Despite there being over six minutes remaining, the game was out of reach for the Canadiens, whose feeble comeback effort was thwarted by a too many men penalty with under two minutes on the clock.

Montreal will look to bounce back with games at home against the New York Islanders and Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday and Thursday before a road game against the New York Rangers on Friday.