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The Boston Bruins were handed a pretty big blow by the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night when they lost 2-1. Not only did they lose the game, but they also coughed up the division lead to Montreal and lost one of their key defenseman during the course of action.
Coming into Thursday’s contest the Bruins were on a two-game win streak and held a one point lead over the Canadiens for the lead in the Atlantic Division. Montreal was riding an eight-game unbeaten streak that had carried them to second in the division. Thursday night would be the first time the two Original Six teams and long time division foes would square off this season.
The game started out as most would suspect in a matchup between heated rivals with both teams skating hard and hitting even harder. Things got a little ugly early when Max Pacioretty checked Johnny Boychuk from behind in the corner. Boychuk hit the boards at an awkward angle and crumpled to the ice.
Pacioretty would be hit with a two-minute boarding penalty. Boychuk lay on the ice for several minutes as trainers and doctors came on the ice to examine him. The stretcher was brought out and he was taken off the ice. In total it took about 10 minutes of stoppage to get Boychuk off the ice. Both fans and players were visibly shaken by the sight of him getting taken off in a stretcher. It was reported that he was taken to a local hospital.
Play would continue and it continued at the frantic pace that had started the game. There didn’t appear to be any ill intent on the behalf of Pacioretty and the Bruins players felt no need to retaliate.
The Bruins were outplaying and outshooting Montreal for most of the first period with little success. Finally, with a little under three minutes left in the period Gregory Campbell finally beat Carey Price on a nice feed from Milan Lucic to give Boston a one goal lead. The goal would stand as the only one of the period. The Bruins had outshot the Canadiens 10-3 but only had one goal to show for it.
The second period told a much different story as the Bruins looked confused on the ice and Montreal was able to skate circles around them. Montreal got bodies to the net and finally started to put some pucks on the net as well while the Bruins looked like cats chasing a laser pointer. At about the halfway point Tomas Plekanec tied the game at one on a tight angle wrist shot that beat Tuuka Rask over the shoulder.
A few minutes later Pacioretty gave the Canadiens the lead when he lifted a backhand shot past Rask. The shot came off a rebound as Bruins players scrambled to get the puck out of their zone and Rask was caught out of position after making a save. Pacioretty has been red hot during the Canadiens current unbeaten streak as this was his ninth goal in nine games. Montreal finished the period with a one goal lead after posting an 18-7 shot advantage.
The third period saw the Bruins finally screw their heads on straight and start to create some pressure in an effort to tie and/or win the game. Unfortunately, Boston got a taste of its own medicine as Price played the role usually held by Rask and completely stoned Boston and carried his team to the 2-1 victory and the division lead.
After the game Claude Julien confirmed that Boychuk had been released from the hospital and would travel back to Boston with the team but no further details about the injury were divulged. It was later reported that Boychuk may have suffered from back spasms.
Boston and Montreal will not face off again until Jan. 30 when they will meet for the second of their four scheduled games this season.
The Bruins will head back to Boston for a Saturday showdown with the conference leading Pittsburgh Penguins. The game will be the third and final time the two teams will meet this season. So far, each team has beaten the other once while playing at home and Saturday’s game will be a home game for the Bruins.