Bruins beat Canadiens 2-1 in 2nd OT after Tim Thomas and Carey Price engage in epic duel

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When people pictured how the Montreal Canadiens-Boston Bruins series would play out, this was the type of game people were expecting. Both Carey Price and Tim Thomas were flat-out amazing, with Thomas stealing the show even though two Bruins skaters made great “saves” of their own during the contest.

Even though it took until a second overtime period for Nathan Horton to bang in a rebound for a 2-1 Bruins win, each squad brought relentless energy to a game that was full of drama and close calls. The Habs shouldn’t feel shame with this loss, but this is the kind of defeat that’s tough to shake.

Boston 2, Montreal 1 (2nd OT); Bruins lead series 3-2.

This marks the second consecutive overtime win for the Bruins, who now have the Canadiens on the ropes after dropping behind 0-2. The Bruins also became the first team to win a home game in this series.

The greatest moments probably came from the most amazing saves.

After plenty of trips to the doghouse, Michael Ryder is putting together the type of postseason that could make him a folk hero in Boston. Ryder made an outrageous (but unofficial) save on a Tomas Plekanec shot, stopping the puck with his right hand with the type of reaction that makes him a great off-season ball hockey goalie.

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You would assume that would be the highlight of the game, but Ryder ended up with some great competition, with Zdeno Chara making a crucial “save” of his own (though it was a bit more accidental).

Judging from those two dodged bullets, one might wonder if Thomas had a bad night. Instead, he was at his aggressive, sprawling best while stopping 44 out of 45 shots. His best moment came in the the second overtime period when he stopped a well-executed 2-on-1 play in what was probably the best save of the playoffs so far.

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(Unless you prefer Ryder’s out-of-context stroke of brilliance, of course.)

Carey Price didn’t get the win, but anyone who blames him for the loss obviously didn’t watch the game (or even peruse the box score). Price made 49 out of 51 saves, including a brilliant stop when David Krejci tried a fancy one-on-one deke on him.

Here are all of the highlights:

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Thomas and Price put on a goalie clinic, but ultimately, the unorthodox goalie’s team came out on top against the polished butterfly stylist.

The three goal scorers

Brad Marchand made it 1-0 in the third period after the puck went his way from Patrice Bergeron’s broken stick, a goal that happened shortly after Max Pacioretty’s nose-related insults cropped up on Twitter. (Pacioretty later apologized.)

That 1-0 goal lead didn’t last, though, as Jeff Halpern took advantage of a Bruins lapse to bring the score to 1-1. It would stay that way until Horton scored off of a rebound nine minutes into the second OT. (If you’re like me, you’re expecting to come across a lot of Dr. Seuss puns in the near future.)

The impact on both teams

The Bruins must feel a lot of confidence with their backs against the wall. They’ve won three straight games with little-to-no margin of error, and again, two of those victories came in OT. After a relatively shaky start, Thomas is showing the world why he’s one of the absolute best netminders alive.

The Canadiens must be heartbroken right now, especially since they had a legitimate chance to win all five games. The silver lining is obvious, though: they’re obviously talented enough to trade blows with a strong team.

Montreal only needs to look to their 2010 series against the Penguins and Capitals for more dire situations, although this one might match those from an emotional standpoint.

This series is living up to its expectations so far, but if this amazing Game 5 is any indication, there’s plenty of fun left. It just goes to show you that you don’t need a bunch of goals to have a captivating game.

First pick, first goal: Nico Hischier also flirting with first hat trick

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One remarkable thing about the New Jersey Devils’ hot start is that Nico Hischier, the top pick of this past draft, had yet to score his first NHL goal.

Of course, there’s a danger to looking at only goals. After all, the 18-year-old had four assists in six games, with three coming in his last two contests. The Devils were justified in all of those comments about it being just a matter of time …

… As it turns out, it didn’t take Hischier much time against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.

Not only did the Swiss scorer find the net for his first goal by roofing a nice setup from Taylor Hall and Drew Stafford.

He also showed some savvy in scoring his second goal less than two minutes later.

Hischier now has two periods and change to collect his first-ever hat trick in that same game.

A quick look at how he’s been doing, overall

Even when other Devils stole some of his thunder in what might have been an opening statement of a first win for New Jersey, Hischier showed some dynamic moves.

Nice.

As NJ.com’s Chris Ryan reported, Devils coach John Hynes was left raving about Hischier after he collected two assists in the Devils’ shootout win against the Tampa Bay Lightning earlier this week.

“He was very good in all aspects,” John Hynes said on Wednesday. “Defensively he was excellent, going back to the video this morning, some of the chances he had that he didn’t score on were excellent. When you look at the chances he created, the assists he had, the assist on the game-tying goal, he set up (Taylor Hall) very well in the offensive zone. I’d say that was his most complete game to date.”

Hischier began the season being used sparingly, but he logged more legitimate top-six minutes the past couple games. He sure seems like a quick study so far. Hischier’s getting some protected zone starts and other situations, but there’s also sense that Hynes is going to take off the training wheels very quickly.

Thursday seems like the reward, or the flashing light, for all that good early work. This post will be updated as we wait to see if Hischier can manage that hat trick.

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Look, it’s very, very early.

All we can judge Hischier and the Devils on, right now, is how they’ve played so far … and with each game, this team looks more and more legit. And so does their prized prospect.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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Bruised Bruins get Bergeron and Backes back, at least

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On paper, a game against old chums the Vancouver Canucks would probably be an assumed W for the Boston Bruins.

It hasn’t been safe to assume much during an up-and-down start so far, and that goes straight down to injuries, as Bruins news seems to rotate with the bad and the good.

In the case of Thursday, the good and the bad seem to come in hour rotations rather than days. Earlier, the unfortunate news came: Tuukka Rask was diagnosed with a concussion, adding to the rough news about Ryan Spooner.

If Anton Khudobin struggles and the Bruins need to outscore their problems, at least they’re getting reinforcements in that regard, as both David Backes and Patrice Bergeron are back in action.

One would expect Bergeron to resume much of his puck-mastery tonight, or at least soon, even if he might take a while to improve after a 2016-17 season he wasn’t totally pleased with.

(Bergeron was probably in the minority there, what with winning the Selke Trophy and his line with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak dominating opponents.)

Backes might be most interesting to watch. He reportedly lost 10 lbs. because of diverticulitis, so you wonder if he’ll be limited for a while. He’s trying to bounce back from 2016-17 in a more objective way than Bergeron, after all.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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Bruins turn to Khudobin after Rask diagnosed with concussion

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A bad start to the season officially got worse on Thursday as the Boston Bruins announced that Tuukka Rask has been diagnosed with a concussion.

The 30-year-old netminder collided with Anders Bjork during practice on Wednesday and needed to be helped off the ice. Anton Khudobin will start Thursday night against the Canucks and Zane MacIntyre will serve as his backup.

The Bruins are 2-3-0 on the season with a minus-4 goal differential. Rask has struggled as well with an ugly .887 even strength save percentage in four starts. With four games over the next 11 days, the hope is that either Khudobin or MacIntyre can right the ship as Rask heals.

“I feel good. Camp was good and everything is fine, and I’ve started better than last year,” said Khudobin via NBC Sports Boston. “My role is just day-to-day. Today is a game day and hopefully, you get a good result, and then tomorrow is another new day.”

As the Bruins get David Backes and possibly Patrice Bergeron back, they’ve watched as Rask and Ryan Spooner (4-6 weeks) leave the lineup with injury. Having a roster in flux while you’re trying to find some consistency will be a tough ask for head coach Bruce Cassidy and his players.

The 31-year-old Khudobin has played well in two appearances this season, stopping 32 of 33 shots faced and posting a .970 ESSV%.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Ric Flair replica robe awarded to Flyers game MVPs (Photo)

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NHL teams love handing out a player of the game awards to someone who played an important role in a victory. The tradition has been going on for years and the items have ranged from football helmets to camouflage jackets to championship belts to wolf heads to weenie hats.

The Philadelphia Flyers are one of those teams taking part in the post-game tradition and have chosen a very unique item to honor game MVPs this season.

In honor of one of wrestling’s greats, game MVPs will receive a Ric Flair replica robe.

Spend time inside Wells Fargo Center for a Flyers game and you’ll hear fans unleashing plenty of Flair’s famous “woo’s” — something that kind of pissed off the players as recent as last season..

“I hope it’s a short-lived fad,” said Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol last November.

“The first period they are [expletive] woo’ing. What are you, [expletive] 10-years old?,” opined Jakub Voracek.

Maybe the players had a change of heart and have embraced the “woo’s?” Now that the robe, which was designed by the daughter of equipment manager Derek Settlemyre, will be a regular thing, one can imagine an uptick in the “Nature Boy’s” famous call done by fans during games.

Flair, 68, was hospitalized in August as he entered the early stages of kidney failure and congestive heart failure. He was released last month after doctors removed part of his bowel and inserted a pacemaker. An ESPN documentary about his life and wrestling career will premier in November.

Stick-tap NBC Philadelphia

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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