Monday night. Only two games on the schedule. A quiet evening in the NHL, perhaps? No. Not between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.
The rivalry renewed itself Monday, as the two teams met in Montreal. There were big hits and scoring chances and great saves from Tuukka Rask and Carey Price. OK, so it was a low-scoring game. Those can be fun, too, as these teams illustrated.
Despite a recent lack of offense, the Bruins earned an important 2-1 overtime victory, moving within eight points of the Habs in the Atlantic Division standings. Ryan Spooner scored the winner, sneaking the puck through the legs of Price on a nifty move to the forehand.
For a game in the middle of December, this one was certainly not lacking intensity. In fact, it was pure chaos at times, especially in the three-on-three overtime, with a playoff atmosphere.
The temperature started to rise with an Alexei Emelin hit along the boards on Bruins scorer David Pastrnak in the first period. That was followed up with a huge open-ice hit from Torey Krug on Andrew Shaw.
Shaw, whose head snapped back at the contact of the hit, went to the dressing room but he did return for the second period and was involved in getting under the skin of Bruins players as the night continued.
Neither of the aforementioned hits resulted in penalties, although Krug later fought Brendan Gallagher in the first period.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that scoring proved difficult for both teams.
The Habs and Bruins feature elite goalies in Price and Rask, and they were in fine form.
Rask went old school, stacking the pads to deny Tomas Plekanec, and Price robbed Pastrnak with a toe save in overtime. The Bruins appeared to have the winner on the ensuing rebound, but the goal was disallowed because of the contact between Pastrnak and Price in the crease.
Big hits, close calls, controversy, great goaltending — what else would we expect when the Bruins and Habs meet?