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The Bruins (22-9-1) came into action on Monday night as hot as ever after a dominating 6-0 win last time out in Philadelphia. They turned their attention to their longtime rivals, the Montreal Canadiens (13-14-7)who have had a rough season and were in need of a change. That came in the form of the firing of head coach Jacques Martin, who was replaced with Randy Cunneyworth. The team was effectively booed off the ice in their previous loss to New Jersey, and needed their game against the Bruins to create some positive momentum going forward.
The Bruins on the other hand entered the night at the top of the Eastern Conference and were looking to further their amazing run that started around Halloween. Currently on a four-game winning streak, the B’s have won 18 of their last 21 games and appear virtually unstoppable after their rough start to defending their championship. Now the dream of repeating this season appears to be a significant possibility.
Both sides kept things simple and clean at the beginning of the game, though the emotions of the turmoil in Montreal was evident. The Bruins struck first on a well executed play by Rich Peverley to Beniot Pouliot. Off of a face off, Peverley swiftly tapped the puck across the Montreal goal and Pouliot knocked it in to give Boston a 1-0 lead. Neither goaltender Carey Price nor the Montreal defense had a chance against the nearly perfect play, and the Bruins jumped ahead. However the Canadiens were ready to respond and did so quickly, turning a breakaway into Tomas Plekanec’s third goal of the season against the Bruins. He had led the Canadiens with 25 points coming in and had already added to his total early. This time the quick score tied the game 1-1, and Montreal had officially shown signs of life in what was looking like the start of a good battle between the rivals.
The Bruins kept pushing on the gas as the second period commenced looking to regain the lead and take back control of the game. At 2:42, David Krejci scored by flicking the puck from behind the net out in front where it was deflected past Price. It was the 7th goal of the season for Krejci, and it put Boston back out front 2-1. It appeared the Canadiens would continue to fight back after Nathan Horton was called for a hooking penalty to give Montreal a man advantage for the potential tie. However it was the Bruins who managed to power play even down a man. They maintained puck possession throughout the two minutes and forced the stumbling Canadiens to play defense.
The remainder of the period had a similar feel even without the man advantage, as the tension between the teams was clearly building and the Boston crowd was enthralled by the contest. The physicality of the Bruins was a big part of the period, as Montreal simply seemed to be holding on. The Bruins gained a power play at the closing minutes of the period and continued an offense assault on Price in goal, but to no avail. The Canadiens goaltender kept his team within a goal entering the third period.
The Bruins entered the game Monday night a perfect 16-0-0 in games they led after two periods of play. On the other hand, Montreal had only one victory when trailing after two periods. The numbers were certainly on the Bruins side as they took aim for another win. But they would need goaltender Tim Thomas to shine for them to withstand a Canadiens attack, and he delivered just that early on. Almost immediately at the start of the period, the Canadiens launched two shots on goal against Thomas, perhaps setting the mood for the period. Still though the physicality of the Bruins was clearly superior, and Boston managed to eat up significant time while developing plays in the offensive zone as Montreal searched for answers.
They found their form nearing the midway point in the period with an offensive explosion that consisted of three consecutive shots against Thomas, all of which the postseason MVP and Vezina Trophy winner saved to hold the lead 2-1. The Canadiens wasted another power play, failing to develop much of anything but then forced Thomas to make two additional stops, and the Bruins looked untouchable behind their brilliant goalie. Despite the close score, the actual play on ice was all Bruins throughout the period, as the best of Montreal’s efforts remained denied by Thomas.
The Bruins put a proverbial nail in the coffin of the Habs with a goal by Brad Marchand assisted by Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron at 14:14 to put Boston ahead 3-1, well on their way to their 22nd victory of the year. The goal by Marchand was delivered on a great pass by Seguin, who continues to excel for the Bruins as an offensive weapon. The Canadiens added a late goal, but the Bruins held on for an impressive 3-2 win as they continue their surge through the NHL. Their next game is Friday night when the Florida Panthers (18-9-6) visit Boston.