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The Canadiens had their jet fueled and ready to go as they left the Bell Centre Tuesday, one of the few times they are grateful to be heading to Boston. With a 2-1 win in front of their roaring home crowd, the Habs forced a Game 7 at the TD Garden for Wednesday night.
These two teams have met 33 times in the playoffs. The Canadiens have won 24 of those times, and were ready for the challenge coming into this series-saver Tuesday night.
“We knew we were heading to Boston from the start of the game,” said series’ points leader Mike Cammalleri. “If you look at the game, the importance and the implications involved and out ability to do some things, it was one of our top efforts.”
Both Canadiens goals came on the power play, each time having a two-man advantage over the Bruins. Cammalleri, who lead the 2010 playoffs with 13 goals in 19 games, scored in the first period with help from P.K. Subban and Tomas Plekanec.
Cammallerri got a piece of the puck again on an assist to Brian Gionta in the second period to put their team up for good, after going up again with a 5-3 advantage after a five-minute major boarding call on Milan Lucic was quickly followed by a delay of game called on Bergeron for knocking the puck over the glass.
Patrice Bergeron acknowledged their offensive issues, saying,
“Our power play is struggling lately… They won the game tonight because of their power play. We have to make sure we find a way and bear down. It all comes down to one game so you have to make sure you’re ready and play desperate.”
“Struggling” may be an understatement, Bergy. The Bruins, through six games in this series, have gone 0-19 on the power play, failing to capitalize on all four chances Tuesday.
This series has been defined by impressive goaltending on both teams, with Tim Thomas and Carey Price trading the titles of ‘very good’ and ‘even better’. With 44 saves in the Game 5 double overtime thriller on Saturday, Thomas seemed to be on top.
But Price stole the clinch from the Bruins Tuesday, putting on an impressive performance with 31 saves and breaking his seven-game losing streak at home in the playoffs. Thomas, contrastingly, seemed uneasy in the net all night, beginning with a near goal early in the first period in which he completely lost sight of the puck as it sat open in front of the net. Gionta knocked it in just a second too late; the ref had whistled it dead.
That was just about all the luck the Bruins had in the game, as they amassed more than three times the penalty minutes of their rivals, with 27 in comparison to the Habs’ eight. Many Boston fans found the officiating to be suspect, as time and time again the Bruins seemed to be on the wrong side of the whistle. But their ineffectiveness in the Canadiens’ zone, particularly on the power play, cannot be ignored.
It’s hard to imagine a team winning a seven-game series without one power play goal, but if the Bruins expect a win in Game 7, they may end up doing just that. Regular season scoring leader Lucic has been offensively non-existent, while trying to make up for it by playing more physically in Games 5 and 6. Although the second line of Brad Marchand, Mark Recchi and Bergeron has been the most offensively effective throughout the series, the latter two lack the quickness and the foremost lacks the finesse to be great power play performers.
Well okay, I’ll give you the bad news first. The Bruins have not won a Game 7 since 1994.
The good news is that when they did win in 1994, it was against the Montreal Canadiens. So you can bet you’ll see some good archived analog footage of that gem showing up all day to offer some mild hope.
Another thing: they have the better goaltender, and that’s what should decide this game. Carey Price has performed admirably, and that’s undeniable. But in crunch time, particularly in both overtime games, Thomas has edged his competition to come up on the winning side of the goalie battle. Just the eye test alone shows that Thomas’ athletic saves and timely moments of brilliance are enough to give the Bruins a chance.
A little more good news: The Bruins get to bring this Game 7 back home to Boston. And yes, this has not been a series, nor a team, that has particularly thrived with the home ice advantage. But as the Celtics would be happy to tell them, there is something completely different about getting it for an all-or-nothing Game 7 against your greatest, most hated rival in the playoffs.
If the B’s can’t do something with that, they never stood a chance anyway.
|10:07||Michael Cammalleri (power-play)
Assists: P.K. Subban, Tomas Plekanec
Assists: Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley
|5:48||Brian Gionta (power-play)
Assists: Scott Gomez, Michael Cammalleri
|No Scores This Period|
|8:54||Bruins||Too many men||2:00|
|19:52||Patrice Bergeron||Goaltender Interference||2:00|
|4:37||Milan Lucic||Boarding Major||5:00|
|4:37||Milan Lucic||Game Misconduct||10:00|
|4:53||Patrice Bergeron||Delay of Game||2:00|
|13:49||Canadiens||Too many men||2:00|
|Boston Bruins||Tim Thomas||27||25||59:06||3-3|
|Montreal Canadiens||Carey Price||32||31||60:00||3-3|
|Boston Bruins||0 of 4|
|Montreal Canadiens||2 of 7|