Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens - Game Three

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

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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.

Get your game notes: Bruins at Canadiens

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

• Tonight, the Canadiens will host the Bruins in a playoff game for the 88th time. The Habs hold a 64-23 edge on home ice, but have taken only eight of 15 games vs. Boston since moving into the Bell Centre in 1996. The Bruins have won four of five postseason games in Montreal since 2009.

• With the N.Y. Rangers’ loss in Game 3 vs. Pittsburgh, the Canadiens enter tonight’s game as the only team this postseason not to have trailed in games in any series. In fact, the Habs have only trailed within a game on four occasions this postseason. (See table.) They hadn’t trailed by more than one goal at any point until Milan Lucic scored an empty-netter to give the Bruins a 5-3 lead with 1:06 left in Game 2.

• The Bruins came back from two-goal deficits in each of the first two games this series (2-0 in Game 1 and 3-1 in Game 2). In this postseason of two-goal comebacks (18, of which 11 resulted in wins), the Bruins became the only team to do so in consecutive games.

• Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara logged a game-high 26:59 time on ice, assisted on the game-winning goal by Reilly Smith and was on the ice for all five Boston goals (and two Montreal power-play goals). His +5 rating matched a career high, accomplished twice in the regular season with Ottawa (Jan. 24, 2004 vs. NYR; Feb. 28, 2004 vs. BUF).

• In Game 2, the Bruins exploded for four goals in the final 9:04 to rebound from a 3-1 deficit to post their first-ever regulation victory in a postseason game when trailing by two goals in the final 10 minutes. Elias Sports Bureau The first three goals came with Canadiens goaltender Carey Price in net. Price has arguably been the Canadiens’ best player through two games, but the third period has not been a charm.

• Canadiens winger Thomas Vanek rebounded from his zero point-zero shots on goal performance in Game 1 to score two power-play goals in Game 2. In 60 career regular-season and playoff games vs. Boston, Vanek has 34 goals, 33 assists and 67 points, with Buffalo (31-29–60 in 53 games), the N.Y. Islanders (1-3–4 in 3 games) and Montreal (2-1–3 in 4 games).

• The Bruins’ second line of Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Reilly Smith led the way for Boston in the first two games of the series, combining for nine points (three goals, six assists) on 18 shots on goal. During that span, the B’s first line of Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Jarome Iginla combined for only three points (one empty-net goal, two assists) on 15 shots.

Blown lead doesn’t dampen the Canadiens’ spirits

Thomas Vanek, Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara
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The Montreal Canadiens had a 3-1 lead midway through the third period yesterday and they proceeded to surrender four unanswered goals to the Bruins in a little less than eight minutes.

Obviously, that’s a tough way to lose, but Montreal was able to take a step back and appreciate that the situation is still in its favor.

“Winners regroup and realize the situation they’re in,” Canadiens goaltender Carey Price said, per NHL.com. “I thought we did an excellent job so far. We came and did what we wanted to do, split these two games (in Boston’s TD Garden). Now we’re going to move forward and take it to them on home ice.”

On top of that, the Canadiens don’t feel like they were outplayed, despite the result.

“After we made it 3-1, I thought we played well after that, but that one goal just kind of turned the momentum,” Thomas Vanek said, who scored twice for Montreal on Saturday.

It will be Montreal’s turn to defend its home turf on Tuesday (7:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Get your game notes: Canadiens at Bruins

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

• Tonight marks the start of the 34th all-time playoff series and the 171st all-time playoff game between Montreal and Boston. The Bruins had the slight edge between the Original Six clubs in the early years, before the Canadiens rattled off 18 straight series wins over 41 years (1946-1987). Since 1988, when the Bruins finally broke through again, Boston has won seven of the 11 series.

• The Canadiens return to competition after sweeping Tampa Bay nine days ago (Apr. 22). It was the Habs’ 22nd sweep in a best-of-seven series in franchise history and first since 1993, the year they went on to win their 24th (and most recent) Stanley Cup title.

• Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask, who leads the NHL this postseason in GAA (1.16) and save% (.961), will be starting his first-career playoff game vs. the Canadiens. The Vezina Trophy finalist has struggled vs. Montreal during his regular-season career, going 3-10-3 in 17 appearances (one no-decision), with a 2.63 GAA, .908 save% and one shutout. He has never beaten the Habs at TD Garden (0-4-3, 3.35 GAA, .833 save%).

• Boston allowed a league-low 1.20 goals/game in their first-round, five-game series win vs. Detroit. The six goals allowed by Rask and the Bruins were the fewest allowed by the club in a series going five or more games since the 1939 Stanley Cup vs. Toronto (also six goals in five games). In their last 10 playoff games vs. Eastern Conf. opponents dating back to last season (Gm. 5 vs. NYR, Gms. 1-4 vs. PIT, Gms. 1-5 vs. DET), they allowed only nine goals.

• In the first round, Montreal led all playoff teams with 4.00 goals/game, but none of their 16 goals came from defensemen. The Canadiens averaged 34.5 shots/game, but no Habs defenseman had more than nine shots on goal (P.K. Subban). The Bruins scored 2.80 goals/game in the first round; four of their 14 goals came from their blueline (Zdeno Chara – 2, Torey Krug, Dougie Hamilton).

• Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher (3-2–5) enters tonight’s game with points in all four games this postseason and goals in his last three games. Gallagher became the third-ever Montreal player age 21 or younger to score in at least three straight playoff games in one series (Steve Shutt, Games 1-4 vs. NYR, 1974; and Shayne Corson, Games 5-7, 1987 vs. Quebec). Elias Sports Bureau

• Bruins winger Jarome Iginla, who scored the OT game-winner in Game 4 and the series-clincher on an empty-net goal in Game 5, will be playing in his 75th playoff game tonight. Iginla has now suited up in 1,384 NHL games (1,310 regular season, 74 playoff), the most among all active players who have never won the Stanley Cup.

• Bruins coach Claude Julien will be behind the bench for his third postseason series involving these two teams. Each of the previous series went seven games, and he was on the winning side in both of them, for Montreal in the 2004 Eastern Conf. Quarterfinals and Boston in the 2011 Eastern Conf. Quarterfinals. That 2011 Bruins side went on to win the franchise’s sixth Stanley Cup.

PHT Morning Skate: Bruins-Canadiens kick off Round 2

Montreal Canadiens v Boston Bruins
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If you thought there was going to be a night off to get ready for the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, you’re sorely mistaken.

After last night’s Game 7 tripleheader, action moves to Boston where the Bruins and Montreal Canadiens will meet for the 34th time in playoff history. You can virtually throw out everything you know about both teams when these two meet up because the playoffs are an entirely different animal.

Game 1: Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens (7:30 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

The Bruins may have won the Presidents’ Trophy, but the one team that remained a burr in their side in the regular season was the Canadiens. Montreal went 3-1-0 against Boston this season with the Habs winning a pair of games 2-1, one in overtime, and each team taking a 4-1 victory on the other’s home ice.

Like we said, throw out everything you know coming into the series.

Each team has strengths in each area, but the one that might be the closest comes in goal. Carey Price had an outstanding season and Tuukka Rask is a Vezina Trophy finalist. Price was likely close to finishing in the Top 3 there but was edged out by Ben Bishop.

On defense, Zdeno Chara is the be-all, end-all of blue liners, but P.K. Subban was such a vital cog in helping the Canadiens sweep the Tampa Bay Lightning out of the postseason. The Bruins are all too familiar with how Subban plays and we’ll likely see him have more than his fair share of run-ins with Brad Marchand.

Up front, Patrice Bergeron has become the straw that stirs the drink on both ends of the ice for Boston. He can score goals and he can help shut down whoever he’s lined up against. He’s likely going to see a lot of either Tomas Plekanec or David Desharnais’ line, or just whatever line Thomas Vanek is on.

In Vanek’s career he scored most of his points against the Bruins with 30 goals and 62 points in 55 games. For people who like to point out those aren’t playoff numbers, Vanek had two goals and an assist in three games against Boston in 2010 before his ankle was injured by Johnny Boychuk.

Nope, no potential story lines in this series at all.