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51 shots on net wasn’t enough to beat Carey Price as the Boston Bruins fell to the Montreal Canadiens, 4-3, in double overtime of Game 1. The Bruins battled back from behind twice in the game, scoring three goals in the third period to force the game into OT, but the Canadiens capitalized on a power play, with Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban scoring his second goal to send the quiet Garden crowd home for the night.
The Bruins started off well, carrying the play early on in the game and creating scoring chances. The David Krejci line and the Patrice Bergeron line both had great chances in the first period, but Price answered the call. Then the Canadiens were on the power play after Matt Bartkowski tripped Dale Weise and Subban fired a shot through traffic that found its way to the back of the net. The Bruins continued to get good scoring chances but they kept overcomplicating things, getting too cute and fancy with the puck. I specifically remember Torey Krug holding the puck too long before shooting on a pass from Milan Lucic as well as Brad Marchand turning the puck over because he was trying to dangle on the PK. After 20 minutes, the score remained 1-0.
Early in the second period, Jarome Iginla fed Krejci for a mini-breakaway but Krejci was unable to capitalize with a slick backhand move. NBC Sports announcer Doc Emrick said that Price was in the head of the Bruins, which I had to firmly disagree with. The Bruins aren’t a team to be intimidated or haunted by their ghosts. The makeup of their roster is too tough for that. They did, however, struggle in other areas of their game in the second. Rene Bourque scored on a 3-on-1 after a bad turnover and the Bruins seemed unable to respond. They were playing without passion, intensity, or urgency, which is obviously unlike them. They had a couple great scoring chances, but Iginla couldn’t bury his shot and Dougie Hamilton rang the post. After two periods, 2-0 Montreal.
As the third period began, Pierre McGuire brought up an interesting note that Tomas Vanek had only played less than nine minutes so far. Additionally, Daniel Briere wasn’t seeing much ice time either; in all of the four total periods and change, he had only 12:21 of ice time. That’s a serious misallocation of resources by Michel Thierrien if you ask me, considering Vanek is a notorious Bruins killer and Briere has 111 points in 112 career playoff games. Oh, well. Things started to brighten up for the Bruins, though, as Reilly Smith was able to sneak one past Price from a difficult angle and Krug scored a beautiful goal through Price’s five-hole after a great play by Lucic.
The Canadiens called a timeout at this point, considering the Bruins were rolling and had scored on two consecutive shots. It worked, because shortly after Krug turned the puck over, which led to a flurry of chances in which Lars Eller finally ripped one past Rask. The Bruins kept battling back, starting to pick up the intensity. Hamilton had a great shift in which he pinched in the offensive zone, threw a big hit on Subban and then rushed to the front of the net to deflect a shot that almost went in. Then with the Bruins down 3-2 with only a couple minutes to go, Claude Julien sent out of the third line of Carl Soderberg, Loui Eriksson, and Daniel Paille. I remember thinking, Why wouldn’t he send out one of the top lines in this situation? But then of course, just to prove me wrong, Paille deflected in a Boychuk bomb to tie the game with 1:58 left. I guess that’s why Julien’s the head coach and I’m sitting here writing this blog post.
The intensity continued right up into the first overtime, which the teams exchanging chances and both goaltenders rising to the occasion. Carey Price especially looked very calm, confident, and collected in his net. The Bruins seemed to keep knocking on the door but just couldn’t open it. The chances were there over and over, but whether it was to a bad bounce or a great save, the score remained tied. The first OT period ended with a Paille penalty when he tripped Gallagher. The Bruins killed the first thirty seconds, but it carried over into the next OT and looked like it might spell trouble.
They were able to kill it off, however, and things were looking up. Julien kept rolling the Merlot line right through the overtime periods, showing his trust in them to get things done and let the others rest. Then, like a black cat running across the road, Bartkowski got another penalty that seemed to spell doom for the Bruins. Right off the faceoff, Briere won it back to Markov who threw it over to Subban. Subban ripped it on net and it beat Rask, who likely never saw it. And that was the game.
There are a few very good things I took out of this game. First and foremost, the Bruins didn’t play their best tonight. They looked sloppy, bored, and slow at times. Why is this good news? Because despite their underperformance, they still got 51 shots on net and scored three third period goals to force the game into double overtime. They also went down one game to none against the Detroit Red Wings at home in the first round. Everyone knows how the rest of that series went. I fully expect the Bruins to come out firing on all cylinders on Saturday morning and will even the series headed back to Montreal.