Final: Montreal 4, Boston 1
Recap: It took just 2:16 for an event that seems to happen far too often when these two clubs meet up to occur: Montreal scored first. An Alexei Emelin shot made it through a heap of traffic and past Tuukka Rask to make it 1-0. With the Habs controlling the play, Max Pacioretty (New Canaan, Conn.) stretched the lead to two on a breakaway goal. Boston quickly responded, with Dougie Hamilton getting credit for the goal on a shot that ricocheted off a Habs defender in the slot.
After a flurry of chances early in the second period, the Canadiens truly seized control of the contest. Captain Brian Gionta redirected a shot up and over Rask, at which point Claude Julien sent backup Chad Johnson into action. Johnson was beat on a breakaway by Danny Briere.
The Bruins' effort in the third period was virtually nonexistent and doesn't deserve more than a single sentence because, hey, I've got to have something to write about below, don't I?
Records: Boston 34-16-3, 71 points; Montreal 29-20-5, 63 points
Key Play of the Game: On the Pacioretty goal, Dan Paille had a bad turnover that set things in motion. Johnny Boychuk couldn't fully catch up to No. 67 in white, but his collision with the speedy winger 'caused him to get off an awkward shot which, sure enough, eluded Rask, who may have been expecting him to make one more move before putting the puck on net. It was just one of those nights.
Connolly's Commendations: Three cheers for the Habs, as they were the only squad to show up tonight.
Chad Johnson stopped 14-of-15 playing behind a team that didn't seem in any way motivated to make a comeback. That's pretty damn impressive.
Connolly's Critiques: It was a rough evening for the fourth line. Paille's turnover led directly to Pacioretty's goal, sinking he and linemates Greg Campbell and Shawn Thornton to a collective minus-6 on the evening. Campbell lost all five faceoffs he took, including a defensive-zone draw in which he replaced Milan Lucic on the top line and stood in for Krejci at the dot, only to lose it cleanly.
While Hamilton had the B's lone goal, Boston's defense seemed to play a little too recklessly all night. There were simply too many pinches and too many poor decisions.
For as great as he's been of late, this may sound a little undeserved, but it wasn't a great game for Brad Marchand. He had three minor penalties, one of which was a senseless running of Brendan Gallagher into the net. No. 63 also finished with zero shots on goal.
Notes: Johnson came in on relief of Rask for the fourth time this season, but the first on home ice. ... Briere had just one point in his previous 10 games. He had a goal and an assist tonight. ... The Bruins have now lost their last five games against Montreal.
Final Thoughts: The good times came to a crashing halt, as the B's four-game winning streak and three-game run of scoring six goals came to an end. One could've banked on the latter not continuing forever, but Boston's effort was unspeakably bad against their slumping rivals. It's hard to wrap one's head around what the poor souls who paid to be in the building witnessed.
Next: The Oilers will come to town Saturday for a 1 p.m. matinee.