Bruins crush the Habs for third straight win

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The Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens will have the next week off — going in opposite directions as far as results are concerned.

After firing coach Claude Julien on Tuesday, the puck-possession beasts from Boston have gone on to win three straight, including Sunday’s convincing 4-0 victory over the rival Habs.

But even just before management’s decision to turf the coach, the Bruins had been able to win some games and convert more of their chances. They have won six of their last eight games, including a three-game winning streak prior to Julien losing his job, while scoring fewer than four goals in a game only once in this stretch.

On Sunday, they managed to pick apart a pretty good goalie in Carey Price, although the Habs netminder has been struggling for two months now.

Adam McQuaid opened the scoring in the first period and Zdeno Chara really got the rout going in the second with a pretty goal for his fifth of the season.

Thanks to this recent stretch of wins, the Bruins have moved six points back of the Habs for top spot in the Atlantic Division. Boston and Ottawa are now tied with 64 points, but the Senators have five games in hand and remain in the second spot.

For the Habs, this has been a brutal stretch of results in February. It’s not good when the highlight of their game versus Boston is Andrew Shaw dropping the gloves with Torey Krug 58 seconds after the opening faceoff. Montreal has now been shut out three times in the past week, with its only real strong offensive performance of late coming against the Arizona Coyotes. The Canadiens have now dropped six of their last seven games.

They have five days off before playing the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.

Video: Shaw and Krug drop the gloves as Bruins, Habs clash

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There is a history between Andrew Shaw and Torey Krug. The emotions of what occurred two months ago boiled over Sunday.

Refresher: Krug caught Shaw with a massive open-ice hit in December. There was no call on the play, and no further discipline for the Boston Bruins defenseman. (Krug did, briefly, fight Brendan Gallagher in that game.)

Just 58 seconds into Sunday’s game between the Bruins and Habs, Krug and Shaw dropped the gloves in a spirited scrap near the blue line, with both landing a few shots before falling to the ice.

WATCH LIVE: Habs at Bruins

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One of the most storied rivalries in hockey is renewed Sunday, as the Boston Bruins host the Montreal Canadiens.

The Bruins are searching for a third consecutive win since they made their controversial coaching change earlier in the week. The Habs have been struggling of late with only three wins in their last 10 games, although they still lead the Atlantic Division.

You can check out the action on NBCSN or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra (7:30 p.m. ET).

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

Goalie Nods: Price looks to get Canadiens (and himself) back on track

NHL on NBCSN: Bruins go for third win in a row against slumping Canadiens

Bruins get rare win from backup goalie, second in a row under Cassidy

NHL on NBCSN: Bruins go for third win in a row against slumping Canadiens

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NBCSN’s coverage of the NHL continues on Sunday night when the Montreal Canadiens visit the Boston Bruins. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET and you can catch all of the action on NBCSN or right here via our Live Stream.

Just one day after getting a rare win from one of their backup goaltenders the Boston Bruins are back in action on Sunday night when they host a Montreal Canadiens team that is trying to get back on track having lost five of its past six games, including a 4-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night.

It is also the second Star Sunday feature on the NBC Networks with the focus in this game going to Montreal defenseman Shea Weber and Boston forward Brad Marchand.

With wins in each of Bruce Cassidy’s first two games behind the bench, including Saturday’s win over Vancouver thanks to a late David Pastrnak goal, the Bruins might be starting to get back on track. But before you rush and give all of the credit to the coaching change keep in mind that this is a team that has won five of its past seven overall, a stretch that has seen the team score 30 goals.

Offensively, it is their best seven-game stretch of the season and it was probably long overdue.

All season long the Bruins have been a team that has done a lot of the correct things that should lead to offense (most shots on goal per game in the NHL, one of the best possession teams) but have simply been unable to put the puck in the net. There were two very different opinions as to what this meant. On one hand, there was the shots and Corsi don’t matter argument that said the Bruins weren’t getting the “right” shots. On the other hand, there was the argument that said they were probably a little unlucky and that if they kept doing what they were doing the results would soon follow.

It seems the results are starting to arrive a little bit, at least offensively.

The thing about this Bruins team is that it was always a team that should have been better than it was offensively because of the talent it has up top with Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak.

Even right now, for as disappointing as the season has been offensively on a team-wide level, they still have two of the top-11 goal scorers in the NHL in Pastrnak and Marchand, while Bergeron has 23 points in his past 20 games. There is talent here.

They look to keep this recent strong play going on Sunday night against a Canadiens team that is having the exact opposite problem lately — they can’t score, averaging just a little more than two goals per game over their past 15. That lackluster offensive performance, combined with a down year from Carey Price in net (and what has been an extended slump over the past month)has resulted in just five wins during that stretch.

Bruins get rare win from backup goalie, second in a row under Cassidy

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The Boston Bruins have had a lot of problems this season, from a defense that could still use a lot of work, to an offense that is struggling to score, to the lack of a backup goaltending option that can adequately fill in to give Tuukka Rask a break. Entering Saturday’s game against Vancouver the Bruins had won just one game this season in which Rask did not start (their trio of backups had a combined record of 1-10-2).

They were able to add to to that total on Saturday with a 4-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks with Anton Khudobin in net.

It was also the Bruins’ second win in a row under new coach Bruce Cassidy after he replaced Claude Julien behind the team’s bench this past week.

In what was his first start for the Bruins since Dec. 23, Khudobin stopped 29 of the 32 shots he faced on Saturday and was able to do just enough to help lift the Bruins to the win. It was his first win since Dec. 1 when he stopped 29 out of 30 shots in a win over the Carolina Hurricanes.

Offensively Frank Vatrano was the big star for the Bruins on Saturday with his first three-point game of the season, scoring a goal (his seventh of the season) and adding two assists in the win.

After Markus Granlund tied the game for Vancouver late in the third period, Boston’s David Pastrnak was able to score the game-winner with just a little more than two minutes to play in regulation when he beat Canucks goalie Ryan Miller for what is now his team-leading 25th goal of the season.

He remains one of the top-10 goal-scorers in the NHL this season even though he has missed seven games.

With the win the Bruins temporarily move ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the third playoff spot in the Atlantic Division and sit two points behind the Ottawa Senators. Both the Senators and Maple Leafs have four games in hand on the Bruins. The Senators were 3-0 winners over the New York Islanders on Saturday afternoon while the Male Leafs play Buffalo on Saturday night.

For the Canucks, it is a big missed opportunity when it comes to gaining ground in the Western Conference playoff race. They remain six points back of a wild card spot and have lost six of their past eight games, earning only four out of a possible 16 points in the standings during that stretch.