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There a few greater things in sports than a Game 7. So your team winning a Game 7 in overtime must be that much better.
The Boston Bruins gave their fans a great game Wednesday (albeit a stressful one, no doubt), defeating the Montreal Canadiens in overtime, 4-3, to win Game 7 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series on Nathan Horton's slap shot just 5:43 into the extra period. The Bruins will advance to face the Philadelphia Flyers, a rematch of last year's conference semi-finals, when the Flyers came all the way back from down 3-0 to shock the Bruins.
In Wednesday night's Game 7, Boston found itself in overtime after P.K. Subban fired a power-play slapshot past Tim Thomas to tie the game 3-3 with just 1:57 left in regulation. The Bruins wasted little time in the extra frame.
Milan Lucic found himself with the puck deep in the Montreal end and skated up to the right circle. He passed to the high slot for Horton, who slid over to the right and fired a shot past Carey Price, who never saw it coming.
For more on this game, head over to Stanley Cup Of Chowder.
Sixty minutes of hockey wasn't enough. The Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens are headed for overtime in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at the TD Garden Wednesday night, tied 3-3.
Trailing 2-1, the Canadiens leveled things early in the second period when the Bruins' power play went from bad to worse. Not only did Boston yet again fail to score, but they gave up a shorthanded goal to Tomas Plekanec.
On a power play -- Patrice Bergeron was whistled for high-sticking with under three minutes left in regulation -- the Canadiens took full advantage of the extra man as Plekanec fed a perfect cross-ice pass to P.K. Subban, who one-timed a rocket of a slapshot past Tim Thomas's glove and into the top of the net.
The Bruins and Canadiens now head to overtime -- next goal wins the game, and the series.
It all comes down to this. After 82 regular season games and a playoff series that can go no further, a pair of sports' most hated rivals will square off in a do-or-die Game 7 when the Boston Bruins host the Montreal Canadiens Wednesday night (7 p.m. ET, Versus and NESN). The winner advances to the Eastern Conference semifinals, while the loser is left spending a summer wondering what if.
The puck drops on Game 7 exactly 24 hours after Game 6 started, in Montreal. The Canadiens were able to take advantage of costly Bruins turnovers for the 2-1 win to force at least one more day of their 2010-1 season.
The Bruins already got a small bit of good news on Wednesday when Milan Lucic avoided suspension for hit on Jaroslav Spacek, meaning he's available for Game 7. But if they hope to win Wednesday night, they'll need to figure out how to score on the power play, something they have so far been unable to do in this series.
"Our power play is struggling lately," said Boston forward Patrice Bergeron. "They won the game tonight because of their power play. We have to make sure we find a way and bear down. It all comes down to one game so you have to make sure you're ready and play desperate."
And because it should be noted: Boston has never won a best-of-seven series after falling behind 2-0.
According to Rogers Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos, there will be no suspension for Milan Lucic, meaning he will be available for the Boston Bruins when they host the Montreal Canadiens in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at the TD Garden Wednesday night (7 p.m. ET, Versus and NESN).
The Bruins have already said they will not comment on the hit.
Did the NHL make the right decision? Probably, says SB Nation's Travis Hughes, who outlines a perceived lack of intent on Lucic's part, a precedent for similar hits this postseason, injury and the on-ice penalty. And as of this posting, the readers seem to agree -- 72 percent of those who responded to the poll say the league made the right call by not suspending Milan Lucic for Game 7.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and for the Montreal Canadiens, that meant playing 60 minutes of gritty hockey.
Trailing 3-2 in their best of seven quarterfinal series against the Boston Bruins, Michael Cammalleri and Brian Gionta scored one goal a piece to lead the Habs to a 2-1 win in Game 6 on Tuesday night in Montreal, forcing Game 7 in Boston on Wednesday night.
Cammalleri put Montreal on top, 1-0, with his goal 10:07 into the first period on a 5-on-3 advantage for the Canadiens following a two-minute minor penalty for too many men on the ice penalty (served by Shawn Thornton) at 8:54 and two-minute minor for slashing by Dennis Seidenberg at 8:58.
Seidenberg knotted the score at 1-1 just 48 seconds into the second period, with assists coming from Chris Kelly and Rich Peverly.
The Bruins suffered another major setback when 30-goal scorer Milan Lucic was ejected from the game following a hit from behind on Montreal's Jaroslav Spacek, resulting in a five-minute major penalty for boarding 4:37 into the second. Lucic also drew a 10-minute game misconduct penalty for the hit at the 4:37 mark.
Gionta netted the go-ahead goal, his first since Game 1 in Boston, 5:48 into the middle period, coming on assists from Scott Gomez and Cammalleri. The goal was the Habs' second 5-on-3 score of the game.
Boston had 32 shots in the loss while Montreal registered 27 shots. The Bruins amassed 25 penalty minute while the Canadiens recorded just six penalty minutes. The Canadiens held a 35-27 advantage in faceoffs won.
The final game of the series will be played at TD Garden in Boston, MA on Wednesday night. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. EDT, and the game can be seen on NESN and heard on WBZ-FM 98.5 The Sports Hub.
The Boston Bruins will go for their fourth straight win and the series victory when they take on the Montreal Canadiens in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at the Bell Centre Tuesday night (7 p.m. ET, NESN).
After dropping the first two games at home, the Bruins rebounds with two wins in Montreal in Games 3 and 4, and then scored a double-overtime winner in Game 5 in Boston (their second OT win in as many games) when Nathan Horton slammed home a rebound.
"I saw the rebound come out, it was like it's in slow motion," said Horton. "It was just sitting there. It felt good to put that in the net. That was an exciting game to be a part of tonight."
The Canadiens were 24-11-6 at home in the regular season, but the Bruins were a great road team, going 24-12-5 away from the TD Garden. Tuesday night, Boston will try to ensure this series does not go back home, and earn their first ever series win after trailing 2-0. So what's changed that allowed the B's to win the past three games? From Stanley Cup of Chowder:
The biggest change from the first two games to now is how the Bruins have dramatically cut down on giveaways. Montreal's gameplan in the first two games was to let Boston make mistakes, and counterattack. They had an obscene 14 giveaways in game 1. On Saturday, in 50% more gametime, they had 10. The Bruins have tightened up, and have outscored the Habs 11-7 in the last three games.
This is the 33rd playoff series between these two Original Six rivals. It is the most two teams have faced off in the playoffs and Montreal has won 24 of them. However, Boston has claimed five of the previous eight.
Nathan Horton has come a long way since the Bruins acquired him in the offseason. Horton, a 26-goal scorer for the Bruins, went through good and bad patches during the regular season, but none of that mattered on Saturday.
Horton had one job, and that was to do everything he could to give the Bruins a 3-2 series lead against the hated Montreal Canadiens. Well, mission accomplished.
Horton scored the game-winning goal 9:03 into the second overtime period, giving the Bruins a thrilling 2-1 victory and their first lead of the series. Boston is now one win away from doing something it has never done in 26 tries: come back from an 0-2 series hole.
"It feels so good,'' said Horton. "We knew it was going to be a greasy goal and it sure was. It was a rebound. But they all count and that was a big goal for us.
"We had control of the puck and I saw the rebound come out. It was just sitting there. It felt good to put that in the net and win the game. It's a pretty special moment.'' (via Boston Globe)
The goal was the second of the postseason for Horton, who is playing in the playoffs for the first time in his seven-year NHL career. Horton's first goal came in Game 3 at the Bell Centre.
Nathan Horton took a page out of Michael Ryder's book, scoring the game-winning goal 9:03 into the second overtime period to lead the Boston Bruins past the Montreal Canadiens, 2-1, in Game 5 of their quarterfinal series in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Saturday night at TD Garden.
Boston took a 3-2 lead in the best of seven series with the win, which marked the first time this series that the home team emerged victorious. The Bruins will look to close out the series on Tuesday in Game 6 in Montreal.
Neither team scored in the first two period, but Boston's Brad Marchand broke the scoreless tie, scoring 4:33 into the third period to put Boston on top, 1-0.
The lead would hold for nearly 10 minutes, but was ultimately erased by Jeff Halpern's goal13:56 into the period, tying the game at 1-1.
Both squads played evenly in the first overtime period, resulting in a second overtime period, where Horton sent the Bruins to victory in style on his goal, which was assisted by Milan Lucic and Andrew Ference.
Boston outshot Montreal, 44-39, and has three power play opportunities to the Canadiens' two. Montreal registered eight penalty minutes while Boston had six penalty minutes.
Boston continues its trek towards history when it hosts the rival Montreal Canadiens in Game 5 of their quarterfinal series in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs at 7 p.m. EDT on Saturday night at TD Garden (TV/Radio: NESN/WBZ-FM).
The Bruins, who evened the series at two games with their thrilling 5-4 overtime win on Thursday night, have never won a playoff series after trailing 0-2 in 26 tries. Montreal won the first two games of the series in Boston, but the Bruins responded with two straight wins at the Bell Centre in Canada.
Michael Ryder was the hero for Boston in Game 4, netting the game-winner 1:59 into overtime on a pristine pass from Chris Kelly. Tim Thomas recorded 34 saves in the win for Boston, which was outshot by Montreal 38-35.
Thomas hasn't been stellar through four games, but he's been good enough to get the job done. Thomas has turned away a total of 109 shots while giving up 11 goals.
In the opposite net, Canadiens goaltender Carey Price was nearly unstoppable through the first two games, allowing one goal while making 65 saves. Price now has 116 saves and has given up nine goals through four games.
While Saturday night's game isn't officially a must-win for either team, it will put the loser in a tough predicament. The loser of Game 5 will be forced to win two straight games, one in Montreal and another back in Boston, if they wish to win the series and advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Andrew Ference gave Montreal Canadiens fans another reason to hate the Bruins, giving the crowd a middle finger after his goal in the second period. Ference was fined $2,500 for the incident, and told reporters after the game that it was strictly incidental.
"It looks awful; I just saw it," said Ference follwing the game. "I can assure you that's not part of my repertoire. I think my glove got caught up. I can assure you that's not part of who I am or what I ever have been. It looks awful. I admit it and I completely apologize to how it looks. I was putting my fist in the air. I'm sorry. It does look awful. I don't know what else to say."
"Honestly, I have no idea [how it happened]," he said. "It looks really bad. All I can do is tell you the truth, and [my finger getting stuck in my glove is] the truth.
"I totally agree it looks bad. I can assure you that's not who I am or ever will be. I was pumping my fist in the air. I don't score too many goals and that's about all I have in my [celebration] repertoire."
I've never heard of a glove getting caught up in that position, but by all accounts, it seems that Ference is a stand up guy. Even still, it would have been understandable for Ference to get caught up in the moment and make a mistake, especially with all of the drama surrounding this Boston-Montreal series. Nevertheless, it doesn't make it acceptable.
Michael Ryder wasn't exactly a fan favorite in Boston, but that may have changed following his two-goal performance on Thursday night.
Ryder scored his first goal of the night 2:13 into the second period, tying the game at 1-1. His next goal was a tad bit more significant, considering it was the game-winner. Ryder found the back of the net 1:59 into overtime on a pinpoint pass from Chris Kelly, giving the Bruins a 5-4 win that tied their quarterfinal series at two games a piece.
Entering the game, Ryder had not registered a single point in any of the first three games of the Bruins' series against the Canadiens. Ryder's struggles had many calling for Bruins head coach Claude Julien to replace him with Tyler Seguin.
Yet if Julien had listened to any of those suggestions, the Bruins may be down 3-1.
"I've been with him for a while," Ryder said of Julien. "Just for him to give me the ice time and give me the confidence, for me, it just gives me that extra boost to show people that I can still play and still got it." (via WEEI)
Whatever the reason was, Julien stuck with Ryder, and it paid off. If the Bruins go on to win the series, that decision may ultimately help Julien keep his job, provided that Boston makes some noise in the conference semifinals and finals.
Go ahead. Turn on your radio or television. You're going to hear the same stuff -- hosts and callers dwelling on real negatives, creating new ones, and laughing off positive thoughts. What's with all the negativity?
The salute came in the second period, after Ference scored a goal to draw the Bruins closer, at 3-2. It certainly helped to get Boston back into the game -- a game they would eventually go on to win, on Michael Ryder's overtime winner -- but that gesture when you're the visiting team and still losing is questionable at best. And costly at worst.
The NHL announced Friday morning that Ference has been fined $2,500 for the "obscene gesture."
The incident was reviewed by NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Mike Murphy. The fine was levied for violation of Rule 75.5 (ii) of the National Hockey League's Official Rules. No penalty was assessed for the infraction.
The fine money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.
The Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens needed overtime to settle Game 4 of their Stanley Cup Playoffs series Thursday night -- but they didn't need much of it. The Bruins' Michael Ryder scored the game-winning game just 1:59 into the extra period, and here's the video to prove it.
It was Ryder's second goal of the game, and it gave the Bruins their second win in a row at the Bell Centre in Montreal to level their series with the Canadiens are two games apiece.
Game 4 was a back-and-forth affair, with Montreal taking leads of 1-0, 3-1 and 4-3, only to see Boston battle back each time. The second period alone featured five goals and three lead changes.
The series, which is now a best of three situation, shifts back to Boston for Game 5, scheduled for 7 p.m. ET on Saturday. Game 6 is set for Tuesday night and, if necessary, Game 7 will be Wednesday night, in Boston.
Video via Mocksession
Michael Ryder was the hero for Boston on Thursday night, scoring the game-winning goal 1:59 into overtime as the Bruins topped the Montreal Canadiens, 5-4, to tie their quarterfinal series at two games a piece.
Boston, which has never won a playoff series after trailing 0-2, has now won two straight games in Montreal and will look to take a 3-2 series advantage in Game 5 as the scene shifts back to Boston on Saturday night.
Brent Sopel put Montreal on top, 1-0, with his goal 8:13 into the first period. Michael Ryder was able to knot the score at 1-1 with a goal 2:13 into the second period, marking the first of three goals in the period for Boston. Michael Cammalleri put the Canadiens up 2-1 with his goal 6:52 into the period and Andrei Kostitsyn added a goal 7:47 into the middle period to put the Habs up 4-2.
Andrew Ference put the Bruins within one goal, finding the back of the net with10:01 left in the second and Patrice Bergon tied the game at 3-3 on his goal with less than three minutes left in the second. P.K. Subban once again put Montreal in the lead a mere 1:59 into the third period, but Chris Kelly saved the day for Boston, scoring 13:42 into the final period.
The Bruins were able to kill off a crucial penalty in the final two minutes after Dennis Seidenberg was called for interference 17:41 into the third.
Ryder's game-winner came on an assist from Kelly, who fired a spot-on pass to Ryder on the left side of the net.
Boston was outshot by Montreal, 38-35, but needed only one shot to score the game-winner in overtime. The Bruins recorded four penalty minutes while the Canadiens had only two penalty minutes. Montreal lost the faceoff battle, 30-28, but held a 27-19 advantage in hits.
In some ways, the Boston Bruins will be in a must-win situation when they take the ice at the Bell Centre on Thursday night to take on the Montreal Canadiens (7 p.m. EDT; TV/Radio: Versus/WBZ-FM) in Game 4 of their quarterfinal series in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
A loss on Thursday night would put the Bruins in a 3-1 series hole after opening the series with two straight home losses to the Habs. Boston has never won a playoff series when trailing 0-2 in franchise history.
Yet that's all in the past, and Tim Thomas and the B's will try to even up the series at 2-2 in front of a hostile crowd in Montreal on Thursday.
Boston avoided an all-out disaster by beating the Canadiens, 4-2, in Game 3 of the series on Monday night. David Krejci, Nathan Horton, Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly all scored in the victory, and Tim Thomas had 34 saves.
"I was lucky to be able to hold them tonight," said Thomas. "Not too many rebounds. It's about time, I was happy to get this win, I needed it. It all worked out good. (via Sports Network)
The win marked the first time this series that the Bruins were able to solve the puzzle of Montreal goaltender Carey Price, who had been lights out through the first two games, allowing one goal in the first two games while turning away 65 shots.
"We weren't as focused as we were in Boston," said Price. "They were buzzing in the first half with a full court press. They traded a lot of opportunities off their forecheck and we were sitting back on our heels in the beginning." (via Sports Network)
Thomas hasn't been bad in net for Boston, yet at the same time, he hasn't been stellar. Through three games in the series, the presumed Vezina Trophy winner has given up seven goals while making 75 saves.
The storyline for the Bruins continues to be the health of captain Zdeno Chara, who was held out of Game 2 after being hospitalized for dehydration. Chara had one assists in 26 minutes on the ice on Monday.
"Chara makes a huge difference, he's one of the more important players in the league and the most important on this team," said Thomas. "It's harder to play without him. The last game we weren't able to get it done without him." (via Sports Network)
In addition to Chara's health, the Bruins have had to worry about the well being of Kelly, who was hit into Price on Monday night. However, a report from WEEI indicated that Kelly has been cleared to play in Game 4.
"I'm good to play tonight," Kelly said afterwards. "I went back to see our doctors in Boston and they gave me the green light and said everything is great and to just go out and have fun." (via WEEI)
Montreal is also dealing with the injury bug, as forward Jeff Halpern has been sidelined since late March with a lower body injury. Halpern may be able to make his return to the ice on Thursday night, according to The Sports Network.
Montreal, QC (Sports Network) - Rich Peverley's goal early in the second period proved to be the game-winning goal as the Boston Bruins took a much- needed 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 3 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
Boston had dropped the first two games of the series at home, but got 34 saves from Tim Thomas on Monday to cut Montreal's lead to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.
"I was lucky to be able to hold them tonight," said Thomas. "Not too many rebounds. It's about time, I was happy to get this win, I needed it. It all worked out good."
Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara was back to play after sitting out Game 2 as he was hospitalized with dehydration. He had an assist in the game and played over 26 minutes.
"Chara makes a huge difference, he's one of the more important players in the league and the most important on this team," said Thomas. "It's harder to play without him. The last game we weren't able to get it done without him."
"We weren't as focused as we were in Boston," said Price. "They were buzzing in the first half with a full court press. They traded a lot of opportunities off their forecheck and we were sitting back on our heels in the beginning."
Game 4 of this set between Original Six clubs is set for Thursday in Montreal.
Boston used a three-goal barrage to take a commanding lead as Peverley capped the scoring 2:02 into the second period as Price tried to clear a dump-in, but the puck hit off of Mark Recchi and Peverley dumped the gift into the empty net.
Montreal, though, got one back five minutes later as Michael Cammalleri left a drop pass at the top of the right circle for Kostitsyn, who bulled to the right side of the net and was able to slip a backhand between the pads of Thomas.
It was a one-goal game 4:08 into the final period when Plekanec took the puck into the Boston end down the right side and from the low right circle he spun around and fired a shot on net that made it in.
Thomas, though, was able to preserve the lead with a big stop on a Kostitsyn shot down low with 4 1/2 minutes to play, and Kelly's empty-netter with 26 seconds left sealed the win.
Boston took a 1-0 lead 3:11 into the game when Patrice Bergeron sent a pass from the deep right boards to the front and Krejci buried the one-timer to give Boston its first lead of the series.
The Bruins took a two-goal lead 14:38 into the first when Chara's left point shot hit off the back boards and, from the left side, Horton was able to swing it in.
Boston was 0-for-4 on the power play while Montreal went 0-for-5...This is the 33rd playoff series between these two teams and Montreal has won 24 of them. Boston, though, has taken five of the last eight...Cammalleri assisted on both Montreal goals.
Just last Wednesday, the Boston Bruins were the third-best team in the Eastern Conference, ready to open their series with the No. 6 Montreal Canadiens at the TD Garden. Now, they're facing a must-win situation.
Indeed, when the Bruins face the Canadiens Monday night in Montreal, Boston will need a win to avoid going down 3-0 in their best-of-seven Stanley Cup Playoffs series. But maybe that's for the best -- after all, Boston was 24-12-5 on the road during the regular season, tied for the fourth-most road wins in the NHL.
Although, history is certainly not on the side of the Bruins -- Boston has never won a series when trailing 2-0, a perfect 0-26 mark.
"It's not over. We have more hockey to play," said Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban about his club sweeping a pair from their perennial rivals. "All business."
Boston has been frustrated by Carey Price, as the Bruins have put just one of their 66 shots in the series past the Canadiens goaltender. Price made 31 saves in a 2-0 victory in the opener and stopped 34-of-35 shots in Saturday's 3-1 triumph at TD Garden.
The big question for Monday's game is the status of captain Zdeno Chara. The defenseman did not play Saturday night after spending Friday night in the hospital due to dehydration. He's made the trip to Montreal, and it sounds like he might be lacing up the skates.
Chara did not speak to the media after taking part in the entire skate, leading his teammates in the post-practice stretch, but Bruins coach Claude Julien suggested the chances his captain will play Monday night are strong.
"As of right now he's looking good," Julien said. "But I can't stand here and say he's definitely in."
Carey Price was nearly unbeatable for the second straight game, turning away 34 shots as the Montreal Canadiens coasted to a 3-1 win over the Boston Bruins in Game 2 of their quarterfinal series in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Saturday night at TD Garden.
Montreal, which took a 2-0 lead in the series with the win, was outshot, 35-26, in the loss. The Bruins had four power play opportunities, but couldn't make them all count, while the Habs had three power play chances.
Michael Cammalleri scored the game's first goal for Montreal 43 seconds into the first period and Mathieu Darche added another goal 2:20 into the period to give Montreal a 2-0 lead, which would hold through the end of the first period.
Patrice Bergeron brought the Bruins within one, scoring 7:38 into the second period. However, the Habs were able to answer on Yannick Weber's goal 17:21 into the second period.
Tim Thomas recorded 23 saves for Boston, which travels to Montreal for Game 3 of the series on Monday night.
Patrice Bergeron brought the Bruins within one, scoring 7:38 into the second period to cut Montreal's lead to 2-1, but the Habs answered with a goal from Yannick Weber 17:21 into the second and took a 3-1 lead into the intermission.
Boston holds a 24-23 advantage in shots, but Montreal outshot the Bruins, 15-9, in the second period. Both teams have registered 11 penalty minutes and both have had three power play opportunities.
Zdeno Chara's absence proved to be costly early in the first period as the Montreal Canadiens netted two quick goals, ultimately taking a 2-0 lead into the locker room after one period in Game 2 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoff quarterfinals.
Mike Cammalleri netted the game's first goal a mere 43 seconds into the period after the Bruins coughed up the puck in the neutral zone. Mathieu Darche potted the second goal of the period 2:20 into the first period.
Chara, who was hospitalized for dehydration on Friday night, was not expected to miss the game, at least according to head coach Claude Julien.
Shane Hnidy will play in place of Chara. Hnidy played in just three games with the Bruins this season, recording a plus/minus of plus-2 and had two penalty minutes.
Hnidy has played in 550 games in 12 seasons, three of which he played in Boston. He has 16 career goals and 71 total points in that time frame.
In 2007-08, Hnidy’s first season with the Bruins, he had one goal and four assists in 43 games. In his second stint with the Bruins back in 2008-09, Hnidy amassed three goals and nine assists in 65 games.
This season, Hnidy hasn’t scored a goal or registered a point, but does have one blocked shot and two hits.
The 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs continue on Saturday night, with the Boston Bruins hosting the rival Montreal Canadiens in game two of their quarterfinal series at 7 p.m. EDT at TD Garden (TV/Radio: NESN/WBZ-FM).
Matchup: The third seeded Boston Bruins look to even the series at one game against the sixth-seeded Montreal Canadiens. Montreal leads the series, 1-0.
Date: Saturday, April 16, 2011 - 7:00 p.m. EDT
Location: TD Garden, Boston, MA (17,565 capacity). Commonly known as the Boston Garden, TD Garden serves as the home of the Boston Bruins, the 17-time NBA champion Boston Celtics and the NLL's Boston Blazers.
Broadcast Information: Saturday night's game can be viewed on New England Sports Network (NESN), with Jack Edwards serving as the play-by-play announcer and Andy Brickley provided color commentary. Naoko Funayama will serve as the sideline reporter. The game can also be heard on WBZ-FM 98.5 The Sports Hub, with Dave Gosher and Bob Beers calling the action.
Postseason Series History: The Bruins and Canadiens have met in the playoffs 33 times, more than any other teams in NHL history. Unfortunately, the Habs hold an overwhelming advantage in those meetings, winning 24 series against Boston in the playoffs.
The Lowdown (via Sports Network):
The third-seeded Boston Bruins will try to solve Carey Price and avoid falling in an 0-2 series hole when they host the Montreal Canadiens tonight for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at TD Garden.
The Bruins entered the first round as Northeast Division champions, but were dealt a shutout loss by Price and the visiting Canadiens on Thursday. Montreal, which finished seven points behind Boston in the division standings, will try to grab a two games to none lead tonight before the series shifts to Quebec for the next two meetings.
Price stopped 31 shots for the third shutout of his playoff career and Brian Gionta scored both goals for the sixth-seeded Habs in the 2-0 win at TD Garden. Scott Gomez notched the lone assist on each of Gionta's tallies.
Meanwhile, Vezina Trophy candidate Tim Thomas made just 18 saves for the Bruins, who are hoping to erase the memory of last year's loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in the conference semifinals. The Bruins became just the third team in NHL history to blow a 3-0 lead to lose a best-of-seven series.
Predicted Series Outcome (via Sports Network): Bruins win the series in six games.
Now that the dust has settled, what can we make of the Bruins' 2-0 loss to Montreal in the opening game of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series?
Well, a lot. And, in turn, not much at all.
The Bruins said it themselves after the game last night: they need to do a better job creating traffic in front of Carey Price, who doesn't handle traffic well. A good Carey Price sees shots and controls rebounds. A bad Carey Price does what the TD Garden faithful had gotten used to him doing in 2011: doesn't see the puck, lets all sorts of rebounds go and usually winds up getting the hook.
But it's much more than that. Sure, the Bruins outshot the Habs 31-21 on Thursday night, but it's hard to count any of those 31 shots as good chances, as Montreal did a great job of pushing the Bruins outside, getting in the shooting lanes and blocking what few good looks the Bruins had.
How do the Bruins fix that? For one thing, they need to come out faster and more aggressive. Thursday night they played with a lot of energy, but that energy didn't translate itself into chances - in fact, it came across as anxiety, when the Bruins made two huge mental errors that Brian Gionta turned into Montreal goals.
Montreal isn't a team that hits back when they're hit in the mouth, and the Bruins need to do just that - use the corners, use the boards, don't be afraid to use the body in neutral ice. But they need to be smart about it - they can't have interference penalties like the one Brad Marchand took in the second period Thursday night. But hitting won't be enough; they need to win the physical battles, take the puck away from Montreal and establish a net-front presence. Getting into the paint around the Montreal net will do two things: first, it will screen Price and give the Bruins better looks from the slot and the circle, and second, it will create rebound chances for the Black and Gold.
But what it will really do is frustrate Montreal. And that's what the Bruins need to be able to do now. They know that they can beat Montreal with their strength and they know that their goaltending should be better. They need guys like Marchand to get under the other team's skin and guys like Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic - and Shawn Thornton, if he's around - to back up their chirping. They need more from the first two lines; more offense, more physicality, perhaps most of all more minutes. And they need their captain and prized trade deadline pickup to act like they want it a little bit more.
Postgame Thursday night, the Canadiens' locker room was calm, confident, cool and collected. Price said the shutout win was "exactly how we would have written it on paper."
The Bruins, meanwhile, waxed about their frustrations - or, in captain Zdeno Chara's case, their lack thereof, a strong statement from a guy who broke his stick on the boards after putting a slapshot from 25 feet right into Price's chest in the second period and who took a careless roughing penalty late in the game with his team down 1-0. They also mentioned how it was/is "a long series" on numerous occasions.
Sure, it's a long series. Sure, the Bruins could get right back in it. Sure, they've been better on the road this season anyway (despite not having a win at the Bell Centre this year). Sure, if you have to go to Montreal with the series tied, you'd rather have won game two and have the momentum.
But while a lot went wrong for the Bruins Thursday night, they played with an energy throughout the game that had been missing from so many regular-season matches. They made two crucial mistakes but played even with or above Montreal the rest of the game - at least from 10 feet out and beyond. They got their playoff anxiety out of the way - four Bruins were playing in their first playoff game, after all.
So maybe they're alright. After all, they lost game one to Buffalo last year. But "maybe they're alright" doesn't change the fact that they've lost five straight playoff games, being held goal-less in 105:13 minutes of play and allowing six goals in that time.
Four games isn't a long series. Seven games is. Last night's Bruins didn't have any interest in going the distance. If they don't start playing like they do quickly, the only "long" the Black and Gold will have will be a long time to eat their words.
Brian Gionta scored the decisive goal 2:45 into the first period and sealed the deal with his goal 16:42 into the final period as the Montreal Canadiens hung on for dear life, ultimately escaping with a 2-0 upset win in game one of the quarterfinals of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Thursday night.
Montreal takes a 1-0 lead in the series, thanks in part to a masterful performance for goaltender Carey Price, who turned away all 31 shots he faced in net.
With less than five minutes to go, the Bruins still had an opportunity to knot the score at one, but suffered a setback a few minutes later when Zdeno Chara was sent to the penalty box for roughing Montreal's Tomas Plekanec, resulting in a two minute penalty.
The Bruins were unable to kill the penalty, and Gionta potted the dagger with nearly three minutes to go in regulation.
Tim Thomas gave up a mere two goals in the loss, but wasn't picked up by his offense. The Bruins' goaltender had 18 saves in the losing effort.
Despite the loss, Boston outshot Montreal, 31-20, and had three power play opportunities to the Canadiens' four. Boston racked up eight penalty minutes while Montreal amassed six minutes in the box. The Bruins also held the advantage in faceoffs won (36-25), hits (19-18) and both teams had 19 blocked shots.
Boston will host Montreal in game two of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Saturday night at 7 p.m. EDT (TV/Radio: NESN/CBC, WBZ-FM).
The Digits: 7 p.m., TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Where To Watch: The entire series will be featured on NESN, while Game 1 will also have a home on VERSUS. Boston's 98.5 The Sports Hub will be airing the game live on the radio. In Montreal, English language coverage will be available on CJAD 800AM, and on the CBC.
The Preview: Poetically, the Bruins and Canadiens had to meet at some point of these season's NHL Playoffs. With the rivalry at its highest pitch in years thanks to March's Zdeno Chara hit on Max Pacrioretty, both teams will face emotionally charged venues in both Boston and Montreal.
The Bruins will ride the hot saves of goaltender Tim Thomas into the playoffs. While Thomas has suffered from some defensive failures in front of him at times this season, he has shown a steadiness in goal that has carried his team. Thomas ended the regular season leading the NHL in save percentage (.938) and goals allowed average (2.00), while placing second in shutouts with 9. His save percentage was a league record since the stat started being tallied in 1982. One of Thomas's shutouts was the last game he played against the Canadiens on March 24th, and was 2-1-1 overall against them this season.
To keep a charged Montreal team at bay, the Bruins will need to see continued offensive output from all four of their lines. Milan Lucic will need to keep up his goal tallying trend, but will most likely be a point of focus for the Montreal defense. Thus, Lucic may need to focus more on feeding his linemates than making the shots himself. Lucic's linemate David Krejci has 10 points in 11 career playoff games against Montreal. The Bruins could use the veteran experiences of mid-season pickups Tomas Kaberle and Chris Kelly, both of whom have been slightly underwhelming thus far.
While the Bruins defense will have a definite size advantage over the Canadiens, they will need to keep focused. With lapses and lack of hustle evident at points this season, the defense is the one worry-point for this Bruins team.
Montreal has struggled mightily this season scoring at even-strength, with NHL.com pointing out that "no playoff team has scored fewer goals at even strength than the Canadiens." Will the Canadiens' experienced forwards Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta awake for the playoffs? Both have years of playoff experience with the dominant New Jersey Devils teams of years past, and particularly Gionta has a tendency to play up for the playoffs.
Montreal goaltender Carey Price will be the team's number one goaltender for the series, and will be under added pressure if his offensive teammates can't find their place on the scoresheet.
Last Time They Met: According to the Boston Bruins, the Bruins and Canadiens have met in the playoffs more times than any other NHL teams -- 33 times. The Bruins swept the Canadiens in the 2009 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, which was the last time they met in the playoffs.
There have been 874 meeting between the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens, and never a dull moment. From epic fights to stunning upsets, with a few 9-1-1 calls from our neighbors up north sprinkled in, there is no doubt that the Bruins and Canadiens are the fiercest rivals in all of hockey.
The storied rivalry will open a new chapter Thursday night when the Bruins will host the Canadiens in the quarterfinals of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden (7 p.m. EDT; TV/Radio: NESN/WBZ-FM).
Boston, the third seed in this year's playoffs, trails the all-time regular season series against Montreal, 259-343-103. The Habs hold a strong advantage over the Bruins in postseason meetings, winning 24 of the 33 series between the two teams in the playoffs.
In typical fashion, the Bruins and Canadiens have played in some stellar games this season. However, the Habs hold the edge in this year's regular season series, as the Bruins were 2-4-0 against the Canadiens this season.
The last meeting between the two teams was on March 24, 2011, with the Bruins blowing out the Habs, 7-0. In perhaps the most notable meeting of the year between Boston and Montreal on February 9, the B's prevailed 8-6 in a game that featured 182 penalty minutes and a plethora of fights between the two.
While postseason success is on the side of Montreal, which has won an NHL-best 24 Stanley Cups, Boston swept the Habs, 4-0, in their last postseason meeting back in 2009. The postseason series victory was the first for the Bruins against Montreal since 1994, when Boston won the series 4-3 in the conference quarterfinals.
Yet in this series, records and seeding can be rendered meaningless. There's no doubt that both teams will give their all in every game, meaning that it will all come down to whichever team wants it more.
Game 1: Thurs., April 14 at 7 p.m.
Game 2: Sat., April 16 at 7 p.m.
Game 3: Mon., April 18 at 7:30 p.m.
Game 4: Thurs., April 21 at 7 p.m.
Game 5*: Sat., April 23 at 7 p.m.
Game 6*: Tues., April 26 at TBD
Game 7*: Wed., April 27 at TBD
View the full first-round playoff schedule here.
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