December 5, 2013

Rested Bruins stumble in second period, fall to Canadiens

By Jesse Connolly

Carey Price and the Habs beat the Bruins Thursday to win for the eighth time in the last nine games. (Getty Images)

Final: Montreal 2, Boston 1

Recap: A silence fell over the Bell Centre crowd in the opening minutes of the game, as a hit from behind by Max Pacioretty on Johnny Boychuk left the Bruins blueliner down on the ice for nearly 10 minutes before he was taken off on a stretcher.

Surprisingly, the rattled Bruins were the ones to control the play after that, outshooting Montreal 10-3 in the first period. The B's grabbed a 1-0 lead on a goal from Greg Campbell, who charged the net and fired a feed from Milan Lucic past Carey Price with 2:25 left in the frame.

The tables turned in the second. The Habs outshot Boston 18-7, tying things up on Tomas Plekanec's 10th tally of the season. They went ahead with 2:18 to go in the period when Pacioretty backhanded a loose puck in the slot past Tuukka Rask to make it 2-1. 

The B's pushed back in the third, but Carey Price stopped all 16 shots he faced in the final frame to nail down the victory.

Records: Montreal 18-9-3, 39 points; Boston 18-8-2, 38 points

Key Play of the Game: Rask would very much like to have the Habs' first goal back. No. 40 simply played the angle wrong, allowing Plekanec to snap one over his left shoulder fom about 25 feet out and a few strides shy of the goal line. From there, Montreal dominated the remainder of the frame, picking up the go-ahead goal and outshooting Boston 9-3.

Connolly's Commendations: That second period was a doozy, but the B's defensemen deserve credit for -- once again -- for playing nearly an entire game as a unit of five. Dougie Hamilton's strong play comes to mind. No. 27 avoided being on the ice for either of the Habs' goals, had three hits and a team-high four blocked shots.

Connolly's Critiques: The second line came alive in the third period and finally began to generate chances, but man, they brought invisible to a new level in the first 40 minutes of action. The trio of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Loui Eriksson had a grand total of zero shots through two periods. Bergeron wound up being responsible for four of the group's five bids in the final frame. Marchand had the other.

One would've expected the B's to struggle after Boychuk left on a stretcher, but their play was strangely better in the first than it was in the second. They looked lethargic and failed to execute on countless levels. It was Boston that looked like the team that played last night on the road, not Montreal.

Notes: The B's failed to earn a point in a game in which Campbell scored for the first time since Feb. 15, 2011, which was a 4-3 loss to the Leafs. ... Boychuk returned to Boston with the team after being examined at a nearby hospital. ... With the win, Montreal took over first place in the division.

Final Thoughts: With first place on the line, the B's lapse in the second period proved to be their undoing. There's really no explanation as to why their game went south before rebounding for a valiant-yet-unsuccessful comeback bid in the third.

Next: The Bruins will return home to face the Penguins Saturday night.

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ