Nathan Beaulieu

Canadiens’ Beaulieu will make career playoff debut tonight

Boston Bruins forward Matt Fraser played in his first career postseason game on Thursday and ended up scoring the game-winning goal in overtime. With their backs against the wall, the Montreal Canadiens have to hope that 21-year-old defenseman Nathan Beaulieu will be at least respectable.

Like Fraser before him, Beaulieu will be making his NHL playoff debut tonight. The difference is that the stakes are even higher now as Montreal is down 3-2 in the second round series.

Beaulieu has 23 games worth of regular season experience and has four assists over that span. He also had seven goals and 27 points in 57 contests with the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs in 2013-14.

He’s projected to play alongside Mike Weaver, per the Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa. Douglas Murray has been scratched after logging just 10:03 minutes in Game 5 on Saturday.

Update: Montreal has also confirmed that Daniel Briere is back in at the expense of Travis Moen.

Get your game notes: Bruins at Canadiens

Zdeno Chara,  Travis Moen
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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:

— With a win tonight, Boston will advance to the Conference Finals for the 2nd straight year & the 3rd time in the last 4 seasons. Prior to their recent run, the Bruins hadn’t reached the Conference Finals since 1991-92, the end of a 5-year stretch in which they made the Conference Finals 3 straight seasons & 4 of those 5 years (1987-88 – Lost SC, 1989-90 – Lost SC, 1990-91 – Lost Conf. Finals, 1991-92 – Lost Conf. Finals).

— Matt Fraser scored the game-winner in Gm 4 for the Bruins & Carl Soderberg opened the scoring in Gm 5 for Boston with his first-ever postseason goal. Despite the Bruins top line – Milan Lucic, David Krejci & Jarome Iginla – not producing at a high level this series, Boston’s 2nd & 3rd lines have come to play against Montreal:

source:

— The Bruins 3rd line (Fraser – Soderberg – Eriksson) combined for 2goals-4assists in Game 5.
— Krejci, the league’s scoring leader 2 of the last 3 playoffs, has 0goals-1assist in the series.
— Smith leads BOS in goals (3) this series; Marchand/Soderberg lead BOS in points (5) this series.

— Montreal is 1-3 in their last 4 elimination games. In the last postseason series between the Canadiens & Bruins (2010-11 first round), Montreal won the first 2 games of the series (at BOS) then went on to lose 3 straight games before a Canadiens victory forced a Game 7 which Boston won at home, 4-3 in OT.

  • Boston is 20-4 all-time in Game 6s when holding a 3-2 series lead.

— Reilly Smith & Jarome Iginla scored power-play goals 32 seconds apart in the opening 1:36 of the second period in Game 5; the Bruins were 0-8 with the man advantage in the first 4 games of the series. Entering Game 5, Montreal had allowed only 2 power-play goals this entire postseason on 15 opportunities. Smith’s goal also snapped the Bruin’s postseason PP drought vs. the Canadiens going back to a Michael Ryder goal in Game 2 of the 2008-09 first round; Boston was 0-38 on the PP vs. Montreal in playoff competition between those 2 goals.

—  Tuukka Rask leads all goalies in GAA (1.70) & SV% (.940) this postseason & is tied in wins with 7 (Fleury – PIT, Lundqvist – NYR, Crawford – CHI). After allowing a total of 6 goals in 5 gms in the 1st Round, Rask allowed 3+ goals in each of Games 1-3 in this series but has since stopped 62 of 64 shots in the last 2 games.

  • Montreal is still the highest scoring team this postseason (3.22 goals/game) but only produced a total of 2 goals in the last 2 games after scoring 3+ goals in each of their first 7 games this postseason.

—  The team to score first has won each game in this series. Boston is 6-0 this postseason when scoring first; Montreal is 5-0. The Bruins were 41-6-2 (.857) during the regular season when scoring first. The Canadiens were 37-5-3 (.856) when scoring first during the regular season.

— P.K. Subban posted another goal in Game 5, his 4th of this postseason (all this series). He leads the Canadiens, and all defensemen, in these playoffs in scoring (12 points – 5th in playoffs). He has 4goals-3assists in this series.

Video: What the Canadiens need to do

Zdeno Chara,  Travis Moen
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Montreal Canadiens fans had to feel pretty rough about Game 4’s 1-0 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins.

Any playoff defeat stings, but the Habs were one goal (from a player who never scored a postseason tally before Thursday) away from being up 3-1 in this series instead of tied 2-2 as they are. Even with that painful blow, EJ Hradek and Don La Greca discuss Montreal’s solid chances and what they must do to win this series in a Face Time segment:

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.

Canadiens start strong, grab 2-1 series lead against Bruins

Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens - Game Three
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Though they split the first two games in Boston, the Montreal Canadiens blew two-goal leads in both Games 1 and 2 of this second-round series. That wasn’t the case on Tuesday, however, as they won 4-2 in Game 3 to take a 2-1 series lead against the Boston Bruins.

That’s not to say that the B’s didn’t make things interesting, however.

A late charge comes up short

With about six minutes left in the second period, the Canadiens had a 3-0 lead after an unlikely Dale Weise breakaway goal. Patrice Bergeron gave the Bruins some hope heading into the third period with a beauty of a tip-in tally.

The Bruins didn’t truly make the Habs sweat until Claude Julien pulled the Patrick Roy Special in yanking Tuukka Rask at a pretty aggressive point in the third period. It paid off with a Jarome Iginla goal with 2:16 left in the game, but the Bruins were unable to score again. Lars Eller then iced the game with an empty-netter.

(Some might wonder why P.K. Subban didn’t get a delay of game penalty with 10 precious seconds remaining, though the officials would likely chalk it up to an accidental moment. Still, there might be some who grumble about that moment.)

Subban stars

Really, that late moment just cemented Subban’s big impact on the game. The sensational defenseman got an assist on this great play by Thomas Vanek:

Then he delivered a hit that hurt Vanek as much as anyone else:

… And scored a fantastic goal after the resulting penalty was killed:

Habs played well

The Bruins made a mad rush late in the game, but Montreal was explosive in the first period and strong for most of the game (especially before they started to sit on the lead a bit in the third).

With Subban, Vanek, Tomas Plekanec and other Canadiens really humming and certain Bruins struggling, the Habs have to feel good about their chances with a chance to take a 3-1 series lead if they win in Montreal in Game 4. Boston needs a better 60-minute game to avoid that perilous situation and tie it 2-2 instead.