MONTREAL — A bad penalty by Jonathan Drouin in the games dying minutes crushed Montreals comeback hopes.
With Drouin in the box for high sticking, the Boston Bruins scored a power-play goal late in the third period to defeat the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 on Saturday night in a hard-hitting and penalty-filled affair. Montreal has lost four games in a row for the first time this season.
“You cant take a penalty at that time of the game,” said coach Claude Julien. “If he (Drouin) said that its on him, well hes right. You have to be disciplined. We cant do those things if we want to win hockey games.”
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With less than six minutes remaining in a 2-2 contest, Drouin cross-checked David Backes in the face, cutting the Bruins winger below the bottom lip. The incident happened away from the run of play just minutes after the Canadiens came back from two goals down to equalize.
“Both teams are used to being competitive in the standings,” said Gallagher, who exchanged pleasantries, cross-checks and slashes with Kevan Miller as the first period ended. “The last few years it’s been different, but both teams feel they’re in it to be competitive this year and that animosity is what you get. That’s the second time we’ve played them this year and we get them again, and I’m sure it’s going to be the same kind of game. Every game it continues to build. There are a lot of guys on both teams who finish their checks and it’s fun.”
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John Moore scored his first goal of the season on the ensuing four-minute power play, at 17:03 of the third, and the Bruins held on for their third win in four games.
“A penalty at that time of the game is not a penalty you want to take,” Julien said. “If (Drouin) said it’s on him he has reason. In a game like that when we came back to tie it, you really have to be disciplined. It’s certain that even if (Backes) went after him, he gave him a cross-check in the face and it’s a four-minute. It’s something we can’t keep doing if we want to win games. We need better discipline.”
“A four-minute power play with five minutes left in a tie game is certainly a good thing to have,” said Backes, who also scored and added an assist on Saturday. “We made good on it. Kudos to the guys in here for staying with it.
It was the fourth consecutive loss for the Canadiens, although they did pick up points for going to overtime in two of those losses. The Canadiens are clinging to the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. After playing five games in eight nights, the Canadiens have a more relaxed week with a home game Tuesday against Carolina followed by back-to-back home games Saturday against the Rangers and Sunday against San Jose.
“I dont mind bleeding. Bleedings better than concussions to me. If thats what it takes to win, Ill take blood.”
While the Canadiens are sliding, goaltender Carey Price isn’t making any progress in his bid to overhaul Jacques Plante as the winningest goaltender in Canadiens’ history. Price, who found himself trailing 2-0 in the first period as the result of miscues by his teammates, has lost five of his last eight starts. He has a 7-6-4 record with a 3.17 goals-against average and an .897 save percentage.
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Boston (13-6-4) finished 1 for 6 with the man advantage while Montreal was 1 for 5. Both teams combined for 30 penalty minutes.
Artturi Lehkonen, whose inability to finish has been a source of frustration, thought he had his third goal of the season in the opening minute of the third period. He went to the net and tipped a pass from Victor Mete. Lehkonen batted away at the loose puck after Rask made the save on his initial shot, but the apparent goal was wiped out because the officials ruled the play had stopped as the puck was frozen.
The Canadiens (11-8-5) dished out 51 hits to Bostons 27, but the aggressive play ended up costing the home team two points.
“Hard penalty to take, when a cross-check rides up like that,” said Charles Hudon, who finished the game with 13 hits. “Yes its an individual penalty, but its the entire teams fault we gave up two early goals.”
The Bruins took a 1-0 lead at 13:01 of the first period when Backes swiped the puck from Jesperi Kotkaniemi at the Montreal blue line before beating Carey Price glove side for his first goal of the season.
The Canadiens took advantage of a turnover by Colby Cave to produce a flurry of activity around the Boston net following the Backes goal, but Rask stopped Drouin, Krug blocked a shot by Max Domi and Rask followed by robbing Mete, who is still looking for his first NHL goal.
With the teams playing 4-on-4 hockey, Jake Debrusk doubled Bostons lead at 14:42 when he snuck behind defenceman Brett Kulak and tapped in a beautiful pass from Torey Krug.
Price stopped 32-of-35 shots in defeat as he dropped to 3-5-2 since shutting out the Bruins 3-0 on Oct. 27.
Drouin got one back for the home team at 6:46 for his ninth of the season. The Canadiens winger beat Krug with speed in the Boston zone before squeezing a shot between Tuukka Rasks pads.
Tomas Tatar got the equalizer for Montreal on the power play at 10:09 of the third. With David Pastrnak in the penalty box for slashing, Tatar took a pass from Andrew Shaw from behind the net and roofed a one-timer past Rask.
“It was a tight game but we needed to find two points tonight,” said Shaw, who earned his 100th career assist. “Saturday night at home against the Boston Bruins, it would have been nice to come out on top.”
It was the second game of a back-to-back series for both teams. Boston beat Pittsburgh 2-1 in overtime on Friday while Montreal lost 3-2 in overtime in Buffalo.
Notes: Rask made 31 saves. … David Krejci had two assists. … The Bruins were without the injured Zdeno Chara (knee) and Patrice Bergeron (rib). … It was the second of four meetings between the Canadiens and Bruins this season.