(Photo Credit: Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP)
By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty
Home: Montreal Canadiens
Away: Boston Bruins
Marchand – Krejci – Pastrnak
Nordstrom – Cave – Backes
Donato – Forsbacka-Karlsson – Acciari
Kuraly – Acciari – Wagner
Grzelcyk – McAvoy
Krug – Carlo
Moore – Kampfer
Drouin – Domi – Shaw
Tatar – Danault – Gallagher
Byron – Kotkaniemi – Lehkonen
Agostino – Chaput – Peca
Kulak – Weber
Reilly – Petry
Schlemko – Juulsen
One point separated the Canadiens and Bruins heading into this one while they sat in third and fourth place respectively. Important divisional points were on the line. Montreal came in winners of their last two, while the Bruins came in losers of their last two looking to right the ship.
The game didn’t stay scoreless for long as Joakim Nordstrom scored 2:21 into the game. Some great forechecking and passing from his linemates helped make it happen. The goal marked Nordstrom’s fifth of the year, assisted by David Backes (5), and Colby Cave (3).
Brad Marchand went to the box shortly after for high-sticking. Montreal came into the game without a single goal on their last 22 power play opportunities. Two shots on goal and two minutes later, Montreal failed to convert on the man advantage.
Halfway through the period, Montreal had 11 giveaways to Boston’s one giveaway. The energy was there, just not a lot of cohesiveness. Noel Acciari went to the box delay of game at the 6:28 mark – round two on the power play for Montreal. John Moore and Charlie McAvoy were integral to eventually kill the penalty and keep the lead intact while they were down a man.
After making a series of moves in the offensive zone, David Pastrnak drew a tripping penalty with 3:04 remaining – the Bruins were scoreless on their last seven power plays in their last three games. It was a sloppy first power play for the Bruins as they had trouble connecting passes at times and struggled to get much of anything going in Carey Price’s office. The best chance came after the conclusion of the man advantage when Noel Acciari nearly stuffed a wraparound past Price.
Giveaways were ever so present from Montreal and the Bruins surely would have liked to convert more than once. The shots were 12 to 5 in favor of the Bruins, Montreal ended up with 14 giveaways to Boston’s one. The energy was there for the Bruins, but the execution could have been better. The momentum was in their hands heading into the intermission and beyond.
Score: 1-0 Boston
The scoring chances continued to come from the Bruins early, specifically from Pastrnak and Acciari. The occasional too many men on the ice penalty struck against Montreal just 2:29 into the period. No dice on the power play, zero shots on goal.
A flurry of chances came for the Canadiens about halfway through the period in just under a minute of consecutive zone time. Shortly after, former Bruin Kenny Agostino was robbed by once former Canadiens goaltender Jaroslav Halak.
It’s not too often you see two delay of game penalties in one game, but David Pastrnak unintentionally made that happen. Some power plays came and went on both sides, both teams found no luck with the man advantage. Price robbed Pastrnak in space on the backhand. Neither goalie was budging after Nordstrom’s early first-period goal. He then managed to rob Torey Krug with his glove as he flew down the left wing.
A four-on-four came late as Sean Kuraly went to the box for holding, as did Jesperi Kotkaniemi for interference – lots of open ice for someone to break through and get on the score sheet. Colby Cave picked up his second point of the night and first goal of his NHL career off of a beautiful passing play involving Pastrnak up high and McAvoy down low. McAvoy picked up his seventh assist, Pastrnak his 19th. The assist marked McAvoy’s second point since returning from injury on Dec. 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
There wasn’t much of the usual Bruins-Habs nastiness as we have seen in the past until the last three minutes of the frame. This time we saw a goaltending battle and a cut-and-dry game through two periods for the most part. The Bruins dominated the shot category with a 13 to 7 advantage in the second period, 26 to 12 overall.
Score: 2-0 Boston
Things got going real early thanks to an iffy Montreal line change. David Krejci buried his sixth goal of the year on the back door to extend his point streak to seven games. Charlie McAvoy’s eighth assist of the season and second of the game helped make it all happen. The Bruins extend their lead to three.
Mike Reilly’s roughing penalty set up a power play that led to the fourth Bruins goal of the game, this time from Brad Marchand. Marchand’s 11th goal was assisted by Pastrnak (20) and Krug (16). It was 4-0 Bruins with 14:54 to go.
This game turned on its head really quickly. The Bruins took advantage of what was a sloppy game on Montreal’s end for much of the time. Outside of their extended zone stint midway through the second period, it was almost all Bruins. Halak capped it off on a great chance in transition late. The 22-save effort marked his third shutout of the season.
The energy they got thanks to a good deal of puck possession, scoring chances and Nordstrom’s goal in the first period propelled them forward throughout the game. Things progressively got better as the game went on.
In one of their better 60-minute efforts this season, the Bruins outshot the Canadiens 9 to 8 in the third and 35 to 22 overall. Next up are the Anaheim Ducks at 7:00 PM on Thursday at TD Garden.
Final Score: 4-0 Boston
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