With Shea Weber out for a significant amount of time, his absence was likely to loom large over last night’s game and the rest of this critical week — unless, by some miracle, the Montreal Canadiens could triumph.
They could not.
The Boston Bruins owned the chances in the first three minutes, but Carey Price was one of the few players consistently on his game the whole night, and he turned them all away.
Unfortunately, a Jonathan Drouin turnover gave the puck directly to Brad Marchand, who made a great play to get around Jeff Petry and made a perfect pass to David Pastrnak to give the Bruins the lead. The Canadiens bounced back with chances from Brendan Gallagher and Nick Cousins (off a great feed by Nick Suzuki) but Tuukka Rask made the saves.
As the period headed into the final five minutes, the Habs won a faceoff following an icing call, and made up some ground in the shot department with several strong offensive-zone shifts.
With 1:12 to go, Marchand let Petry know he didn't appreciate a hit he had taken. Petry let Marchand know he didn't appreciate being speared, and the two tangled. It wasn't much of a fight, but Montreal came out of it with a power play. Unfortunately, as they often have in recent weeks, the advantage didn’t result in a goal.
Pastrnak got his second of the game about four minutes into the second period, jumping on a Petry hesitation in the Bruins’ zone. Montreal came right back, as Marco Scandella wired a shot straight down the royal road and off Suzuki to break Rask’s shutout bid.
Price kept it a one-goal lead with a magnificent save, and things appeared to be going Montreal's way, drawing a power play at 14:22. Off the faceoff, Zdeno Chara and Gallagher sparred, with Chara crosschecking Gallagher across the chin. Interestingly, both got penalties, but it remained a Montreal power play.
The Canadiens looked pretty good as the period progressed, but then got into more penalty trouble. With Drouin and Joel Armia in the box, Pastrnak completed the hat trick. The Habs responded with a strong shift as Max Domi rang one off the crossbar, but the puck didn’t deflect into the net.
The third period didn't change things. Boston prevented much of anything from Montreal. The ... interesting penalty calls continued, this time in favour of the Habs. Charlie McAvoy was dinged for shooting the puck out of play, despite replays showing the puck going off the glass and out. Domi's woes continued with another ping off the post, and the Habs were unable to put anything together on the advantage.
Price was easily Montreal's most engaged player throughout, and continued to be so in the third as the Bruins throttled the Habs in the neutral zone. However when the netminder was called to the bench to be replaced by a forward, Patrice Bergeron scored an empty netter to seal the 4-1 win, and take the season series by three game to one.
The Habs put up a respectable 29 shots, but allowed 38, and were increasingly shut down as the game went on. Montreal's playoff hopes looked slim before the loss of Weber, and the loss in the gamegame, and after both they look much more grim.
- Jeff Petry figured prominently into this game, both on the good and bad side of things, though the net result was unfortunately negative as he was on the ice for and (whether directly or indirectly) responsible for three of the four goals against.
- The reffing was bad. Perhaps worse for the Habs, but definitely bad on both sides. The off-setting roughing calls against Gallagher and Chara were especially laughable.
- There are still some fun players to watch on this team. If the playoffs are getting out of reach, at least there’s something to look forward the rest of the way.