January 13, 2012

Sloppy Bruins rely on Thomas to beat Habs

By Jesse Connolly

Tim Thomas stopped 33-of-34 in the B's 2-1 win over Montreal. (Getty)

Final: Boston 2, Montreal 1

Recap: Carey Price has had some bad luck so far at TD Garden, and it didn’t take long for the black cloud hovering over the Habs’ netminder to rear its ugly head. At the 1:23 mark, a dump-in by Johnny Boychuk took a funny bounce off the end-boards and ricocheted back in front. Price had already gone behind the net, so when the puck popped out to Jordan Caron, the crease was empty. Caron buried it for his second goal of the season to make it 1-0.

An extremely tame game between the two historic rivals ensued until P.K. Subban elbowed David Krejci late in the third period. Somehow, with Andy Ference getting a double-minor for roughing, Montreal got a power play out of it. Yannick Weber (all this kid does is score against the Bruins) tallies with 7:14 left, cutting the lead to one. But Tim Thomas remained spectacular, thwarting Montreal’s late push to give the B’s a 2-1 victory.

Records: Boston 28-11-1, 57 points; Montreal 16-20-7, 39 points

Key Play of the Game: A win was anything but a lock going into the third when Boston led the tilt 1-0, but Boston’s red-hot first line provided an insurance marker that proved to be the game-winner. Nathan Horton fed the puck in front to Milan Lucic, who gathered the biscuit then snapped a backhander past Price on the blocker side, putting the Black and Gold ahead 2-0.

Connolly’s Commendations: Props must immediately go to Thomas, who faced arguably his high number of quality scoring chances in this one. Montreal came oh-so-close to getting blanked despite firing 34 shots on goal, as the B’s veteran netminder was extremely solid after allowing four goals in his last start against Vancouver.

The B’s top forward trio came through again. All three factored in on the game-winner, including David Krejci, whose assist stretched his point streak to ten games – the longest in the NHL this season.

Adam McQuaid also quietly enjoyed a solid game. No. 54 made a number of key defensive plays, including a breakup of a pass attempt by Erik Cole during a 2-on-1 for the Canadiens.

Connolly’s Critiques: It was a rare rough night for Patrice Bergeron just hours after the center was an All-Star snub. No. 37 won just 5-of-15 (33%) faceoffs and simply didn’t have the usual widespread impact he has on the ice.

Boston’s defense was quite shoddy throughout the contest, especially in the first period when Tim Thomas was forced to make 16 stops. A number of egregious turnovers, including by Dennis Seidenberg and partner Joe Corvo, set the Habs up for a few golden chances.

Notes: Canadiens forward Mike Cammalleri disappeared after the second period. The winger – after voicing frustrations with his club’s struggles a day prior – was traded to Calgary during (!) the game.

Final Thoughts: Thursday night was certainly a case of winning ugly by the Black and Gold. Montreal was the better team, but due to a few bad bounces and an inability to crack Thomas, they wound up on the losing end for the seventh time in their last 10 contests

Next: The B’s will now embark on a four-game road trip which begins on Saturday down in Carolina.