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With first place on the line Thursday night, the Bruins ran into a hot goaltender, and paid the price.
Montreal’s Carey Price stopped 34 of Boston’s 35 shots to lead the Canadiens to a 3-1 win, and to the top of the Northeast Division of the NHL.
Less than 24 hours after their rousing third-period comeback against Sidney Crosby and friends in Pittsburgh, the Bruins came home to face their rivals from Montreal in a Veteran’s Day showdown. But the B’s were unable to sustain their scintillating performance from the end of Wednesday night’s game. Montreal outshot them 41-35, and scored twice in the third period to open a four-point lead on Boston in the standings (though the Bruins have played three fewer games).
Five minutes into the game, with Bruins rookie Tyler Seguin in the box, Boston’s top-ranked penalty kill couldn’t keep the Canadiens off the board, as P.K. Subban’s first-time blast beat Boston goalie Tukka Rask. It was the Montreal rookie’s first regular-season NHL goal of his career.
Ten minutes later, Milan Lucic wheeled around the Montreal net, and dished the puck to a wide-open Zdeno Chara, whose snapper beat Price to tie the game.
In the second period, the Bruins generated some quality scoring chances, outshooting Montreal 13-10, but couldn’t beat Price. With Maxim Lapierre in the penalty box for diving, Mark Recchi broke in alone, but was denied by Price.
With less than 5:00 to go in the period, Montreal thought they had taken the lead when Jeff Halpern kicked a rebound past Rask into the Boston net, but after video review, the goal was waved off.
With seven seconds left in the period, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was called for interference. He was still in the box 29 seconds into the third, when the Canadiens grabbed the lead with another power play goal. Former BC star Brian Gionta scored off a nice pass from Mike Cammalleri to make the score 2-1.
After falling behind, the Bruins picked up the pressure, generating several scoring chances on a mid-period power play, but were unable to beat Price again.
Montreal pushed their lead to 3-1 when Scott Gomez’s shot off a rebound bounced off the crossbar, then off Rask’s back, into the net.
The Bruins couldn’t muster a goal and seemed to drag a bit at the end of their second game in two nights.
Despite making 38 saves, Rask falls to 0-4-1 on the season. The Bruins have now lost three of their last four games.