BOSTON — The Canadiens played a near-perfect road game for 46 minutes Sunday, but learned a good team like the Bruins will take advantage of any chances you give them as Montreal fell 3-1.
The Bruins scored three goals in the third period to extend their winning streak to seven games, while the Canadiens’ losing streak has hit eight games (0-5-3).
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Boston Bruins Win 7th Straight, Rally to Beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-1
Montreal took a lead early in the game and proceeded to do all the things they didn’t do in the first seven games of the losing streak.
They forechecked. They backchecked. They didn’t allow the Bruins the odd-man rushes that have plagued the Canadiens during their losing streak.
But this game became a cliffhanger when the Canadiens provided the smallest of openings for David Pastrnak, the leading goal-scorer in the NHL. He eluded defenceman Gustav Olofsson along the boards and beat Price with a shot over the goaltender’s left shoulder to tie the game at 6:16 of the third period. It was Pastrnak’s 25th goal.
A holding penalty to Nick Cousins gave the Bruins a power play — never a good idea, considering the sorry state of the Montreal penalty-kill — and David Backes scored to give the Bruins the lead at 10:29. Jake DeBrusk added an insurance goal.
Claude Julien reunited the Finnish Connection with Jesperi Kotkaniemi between Artturi Lehkonen and Joel Armia, and they got the bounce to give the Canadiens a 1-0 lead at 1:58 of the first period. Armia was credited with an unassisted goal when he threw a puck toward the net and it caromed in off Bruins defenceman Charlie McAvoy’s skate. Armia, who had five of Montreal’s 11 shots in the first period, has scored in each of the last three games and has 10 goals on the season.
Jake DeBrusk added his sixth goal of the year on a give-and-go with Charlie Coyle two minutes later.eval(ez_write_tag([[728,90],thehockeywriters_com-medrectangle-3,ezslot_9,627,0,0]));
The Canadiens dodged a bullet or two in the dying minutes of the second period. Shea Weber was penalized for interference, but Montreal managed to kill the penalty and then held on in the final minute when the Bruins put on a push. Matt Grzelcyk had the best chance when he swatted at a loose puck at the side of the net, but his shot slid harmlessly through the crease.
This was the tail end of a back-to-back situation, and the Canadiens didn’t play nearly as well at home Saturday afternoon when they dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to the Philadelphia Flyers.
With Victor Mete sidelined by a lower-body injury, Julien was forced to juggle his defence pairings. Brett Kulak, who was a healthy scratch Saturday against Philadelphia, was on the top pair with Weber, while Ben Chiarot and Jeff Petry were the No. 2 pair. Olofsson, who was called up from Laval on Friday, played with rookie Cale Fleury. Olofsson was used sparingly, but was on the ice just long enough to open the door for the Bruins.
Armias backhand shot from the right circle deflected off Charlie McAvoys skate and into the net for his 10th goal of the year 1:58 into the game.
While a snowstorm caused widespread cancellations at Boston-area airports Sunday, the Canadiens’ charter flight was able to take off after the game. They’re back in action Tuesday when the New York Islanders visit the Bell Centre.
The Canadiens played a better game on Saturday afternoon, by they were still undone by some of the same issues that have led to their seven-game losing streak. There were fewer turnovers, and very few odd-man rushes, which is at least an encouraging sign.
They need to play a perfect game if they want to defeat the Bruins, and make up for an 8-1 loss earlier in the week. That will require a great performance from everyone involved.
Montreals defence is a bit compromised today with the loss of Victor Mete in yesterdays game. Brett Kulak draws in in his absence as the Habs hopes to hold together well enough to keep the Bruins at bay. Boston is still without Patrice Bergeron, which evens the playing field somewhat, but the result likely comes down to the play of the defencemen and goaltenders.
To that end, its up to Carey Price to plug the holes his makeshift defence is bound to have. Its a chance for him to put a difficult month of November behind him and start fresh for the final two-thirds of the season.