Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens - Game Four

Bruins’ Fraser scores OT winner in playoff debut, ties series 2-2

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When it became clear that Matt Fraser would appear in his first career playoff game for the Boston Bruins, he tried to downplay the obvious: his dream was coming true. Then again, maybe he was waiting for a more complete dream scenario: scoring the only goal of a playoff game … in overtime … to nab a huge Game 4 win for his team.

Fraser’s 1-0 OT goal ties the Bruins’ series against the Montreal Canadiens at 2-2.

The two teams will shift back to Boston for Game 5 and it’s difficult to imagine Fraser not being there. The 23-year-old seemed to find instant chemistry with Loui Eriksson and Carl Soderberg as their line was trumpeted as the Bruins’ best for much of a defensively rigid Game 4.

Bruins head coach Claude Julien could end up disagreeing, but it seems like Fraser’s first game will be more than just a Cinderella story.

Bruins slow the Habs’ attack

The Bruins managed to slow the Canadiens down through the first two periods in particular, keeping the likes of P.K. Subban quiet. The Habs really heated up in the third period, however, generating a 14-7 shot advantage and generally looking more aggressive.

The game headed into OT with bagels on the scoreboard in part because of near-misses, and Boston’s ability to reduce Subban’s chances.

As expected, there was a fair amount of physicality, including a big check by Douglas Murray on Shawn Thornton, a questionable hit by Jarome Iginla on Max Pacioretty and a boarding minor delivered by Alexei Emelin on David Krecji.

Here’s the hit on Pacioretty:

And here’s Emelin’s blow on Krejci:

As for the men between the pipes, they played a prominent role — as you’d expect in a 1-0 OT decision. Tuukka Rask made 33 saves for his first shutout of the series and second of the postseason while Carey Price was nearly as good, stopping 34 of 35 for a .971 save percentage.

The Bruins and Canadiens battle for a 3-2 series lead in Game 5 on Saturday. If it’s anything like tonight’s contest, there won’t be much room for errors … but maybe enough for another surprise hero to emerge.

WATCH LIVE: Boston Bruins at Montreal Canadiens (Game 4)

P.K. Subban Dale Weise
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The Montreal Canadiens combined a hot first-period performance with a breakaway Dale Weise goal to build a 3-0 lead that the Boston Bruins couldn’t overcome in Game 3. The Habs hope to take a commanding 3-1 series in Montreal tonight while the Bruins aim to head home with this series tied.

Game 4 airs on NBCSN and can be streamed via the link below:

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

P.K. Subban has been fantastic in general during the postseason, but he really made his presence felt in Game 3. The Bruins probably have a to-do list that includes “Don’t fall behind by two goals or more again,” but containing Subban has to be high in the pecking order.

There should be a festive atmosphere in Montreal and some legitimate desperation from Boston, so this has all the makings of a tense and entertaining game.

Get your game notes: Bruins at Canadiens

P.K. Subban Dale Weise
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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Montreal Canadiens hosting the Boston Bruins starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

— Boston has trailed by at least two goals in each game this series—only winning Game 2—but could not complete a three-goal comeback in Game 3. Montreal is undefeated at home this postseason and has won 6 of 7 postseason games, its best stretch in the playoffs since winning 11 straight during its last Stanley Cup run in 1992-93. Boston trails for the second time in this series and for the third straight series, dating back to last season’s Stanley Cup Final against Chicago. Montreal has yet to trail in a series this postseason.

— Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban (goal, assist in Game 3) has 2 points in each game this series (3 goals, 3 assists in series), becoming the 3rd Montreal defenseman with 3 consecutive multi-point games in the playoffs (Larry Robinson –1978 & 1987, J.C. Tremblay – 1971). Subban has now earned multiple points in 5 of his last 6 games and has 3 goals, 8 assists during a 6-game point streak. Subban is the 1st Canadiens defenseman to record a 6-game playoff point streak since Robinson did so in 1985. He has more than tripled his goal-scoring rate from the regular season, while more than doubling his assist rate. Subban’s 11 points currently lead all defensemen & are 4th overall this postseason. Elias Sports Bureau

— Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron scored for the second straight contest in Game 3, pushing his career-best playoff point streak to 7 games (3 goals, 6 assists). He is the first Bruins player to record a 7-game playoff point streak since Adam Oates earned points in 9 straight games in 1992. Bergeron and his linemates, Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith, have outperformed Boston’s top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Jarome Iginla so far in this series. Most notably absent from Boston’s scoring leaders is Krejci (0 goals, 3 assists), who led the playoffs in scoring two of the past three seasons (2012-13: 9-17—26; 2010-11: 12-11—23). Elias Sports Bureau

— Montreal is the only team to score 3+ goals in each game this postseason (3.86 goals/game, 1st in playoffs). Boston has allowed 3+ goals in each game in this series after not allowing any such games in the First Round vs. DET (BOS allowed 1.20 goals/game vs. DET – lowest in any First Round series).

— Canadiens goaltender Carey Price made 26 saves in Game 3 to improve to 6-1 in the playoffs with a 2.47 goals against average and a .912 save percentage. As for Boston, Tuukka Rask led all goalies in the First Round in GAA (1.16) and save% (.961), having allowed 6 goals in 5 games vs. DET. But in the Second Round vs. MTL, he has allowed 10 goals in 3 games, giving up 3+ goals in each game (2.97 GAA, .884 save% in Second Round).

— Both teams were 0-1 on the power play in Game 3, but the disparity in special teams during the series has been greater. Montreal has converted 4 of 10 opportunities (40%), the best percentage in any Second Round series, while Boston has yet to score on the power play in this series, going 0 for 6, tied with the New York Rangers (0 for 13) for the worst rate in any Second Round series.

PHT Morning Skate: Bruins ready to fight back vs. Habs tonight

Brendan Gallagher
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The Pittsburgh Penguins once again cleanly beat the Rangers to push New York to the brink of elimination. While the Rangers try to figure out how they can turn the tide, we have two more playoff games ahead of us tonight.

Game 4: Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens [Montreal leads series 2-1] (7:30 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

Boston scored seven goals in the third periods of their first two games versus Montreal. The Canadiens would not permit any late game heroics on Tuesday.

The Bruins were held to just seven shots on goal in the final 20 minutes and while Jarome Iginla did scored with 2:16 minutes remaining, Montreal still went on to earn a 4-2 victory.

Goaltender Tuukka Rask lamented after the game that the Bruins “made stupid mistakes” while coach Claude Julien felt their start wasn’t good enough to give them a chance to win.

The silver lining is that help might be on the way for the Bruins. Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg feels good enough to return from a torn ACL, although that doesn’t necessarily mean that he will play soon. As upbeat as he is, he reportedly hasn’t been cleared for contact yet.

On the other side, the Canadiens were angry that Milan Lucic appeared to spear defenseman Alexei Emelin.

Lucic and Emelin have a long-standing rivalry, so we’ll have to see if that battle escalates as we get deeper into the series.

Game 3: Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings [Los Angeles leads series 2-0] (10:00 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

The Kings have won six straight games, but they want to avoid getting too comfortable. After all, they know better than most just how quickly a series can turn.

“Coming home having that 2-0 lead, you want to have that killer instinct too, and that right attitude, that right mind-set to win in front of your own fans,” Kings forward Jarret Stoll told the Los Angeles Times.

The Ducks are going into this contest with a similar attitude and it obviously shouldn’t be hard for them to view this as a must-win game. In order for Anaheim to turn this series around though, the team needs to find a way to beat Jonathan Quick. So far the Kings goaltender has turned aside 69 of 72 shots.

“He’s seeing a lot of pucks. We need to get in his eyes, get in his head a bit,” forward Patrick Maroon said. “We need to crash and bang, go to the net. We need all 20 of us. It’s what we’ve been doing all year.”

If they fail to do that tonight, the Ducks will have no recourse but to try and give the Kings a taste of their own medicine by overcoming a 3-0 series deficit.

Bruins need more from ‘KIL Line,’ especially Krejci

Montreal Canadiens v Boston Bruins - Game Two
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Boston Bruins center David Krejci was starting to develop a reputation for making significant leaps from nice regular season offensive production to elite work in the playoffs. If this postseason’s trends continue, his two breakout playoff runs may instead be branded as anomalies.

A Killer regular season

Oddly enough, Krejci is struggling to score – zero goals, just three assists in eight postseason games – after enjoying the best regular season of his NHL career. Krejci set a new career-high with 69 points in 2013-14 as his “KIL Line” with Jarome Iginla and Milan Lucic often terrorized opposing defenses.

Iginla had 30 goals and 61 points, Krejci generated 19 tallies among his 69 points and Lucic produced 24 goals and 59 points. While none of them were point-per-game players, the trio was a real handful to deal with and scored important goals; they combined for an impressive 19 game-winners this season.

You can quibble about Iginla, 36, and Lucic, 25, experiencing their ups and downs during this postseason, yet they’ve been productive. Lucic assisted on Iginla’s 3-2 goal from Game 3 that at least gave the Bruins a shot at tying things up and both power forwards already have a game-winner apiece in these playoffs.

One may even argue that Lucic has been as good as ever in the postseason, at least on paper; the forceful power forward is just a step short of a point-per-game with seven in eight.

The good and the bad for Krejci

So, really, it’s tough not to turn the focus toward Krejci.

While there are some signs that things are getting better, the Bruins would surely like to see more from him. The good news is that all three of the 28-year-old’s playoff points came in the last five games. He provided some optimistic words to CSNNE.com before Game 3, too:

“I feel great,” Krejci said. “I feel like I’ve been skating well and controlling the game for the most part. The puck isn’t going in the net for me, but as long as my lineys are hot – or my teammates – it’s all good.”

As the CSNNE.com piece notes, he’s also drawn the unenviable matchups of frequently facing off against strong centers in Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Plekanec.

So, long story short, there are reasons to believe that Krejci’s name will end up in the right spots on box scores more often going forward. Still, there’s little denying that his team expects as much and that his critics will only start to pile up if the points start to trickle in.

NBC’s Mike Milbury provided the “KIL Line” with a fair critique after Game 3, for one:

Krejci’s situation isn’t as dire as three points in eight games might indicate, but at some point, he’ll need to break through or face some serious heat … especially if Boston’s overall situation doesn’t improve.