They say that familiarity breeds contempt. After playing each other 6 times this season, it think it is safe to say that these two teams do not like each other. Some rivalries are a creation of the fans or the media. The modern day version of the B's-Habs rivalry isn't one of them. It seemed like there was a scrum after nearly after stoppage in play tonight.
The Bruins outlasted the Montreal Canadiens 5-4 in an overtime thriller that may have been a preview of this year's first round playoff matchup. This game had a playoff feel to it right from the start and in many ways this was a playoff game for the Habs, who clinched a playoff spot with the overtime loss.
With 6:15 left in the first period, Milan Lucic and his known nemesis Mike Komisarek exchanged face washes. Both players received 2 minute minors in the dust up that set the tone for the rest of the game.
Just over 4 minutes later, Patrice Bergeron put the B's ahead 1-0 when he finished off Matt Hunwick's cross crease pass. Well after the puck had crossed the goal line, Habs defenseman Josh Gorges laid a hit on Begeron from behind that sparked another scrum after the whistle. Gorges received 2 minutes for roughing and the ire of every Bruin on the ice.
The first period ended with an exciting sequence of events that would be a harbinger of things to come in a wild second period. With the Bruins on a 5 on 3 power play late in the third thanks to Gorges' late hit and a cross-check by Roman Hamrlik on Mark Recchi, Zdeno Chara let a hard slapper fly that rang off the post followed by a spectacular sprawling save by Carey Price to rob Marc Savard. After the final whistle, the two teams came together once again to exchange pleasantries. Chara came flying into the pile up, found Mike Komisarek and started throwing fists. Komisarek got 2 for roughing while Chara get a double minor for roughing, nullifying the Bruins remaining power play time.
The Canadiens took advantage of the resulting power play that resulted from the altercation at the end of the first period on a goal from Alexei Kovalev 1:25 into the second period. Matt Hunwick coughed up the puck to Mathieu Dandenault in the neutral zone and feed the puck ahead to Kovalev, who pulled up at the right circle and got off a quick wrister that rang off the crossbar and in.
The Bruins regained the lead at 3:12 of the second period on Phil Kessel's 33rd goal of the season. Kessel got the puck from Mark Stuart in the defensive zone and skated end to end to beat Carey Price and give the Bruins the 2-1 lead.
During a stoppage in play at 3:55 of the middle period, more pushing and shoving ensued, likely in response to Matt Hunwick's huge open ice hit on Andrei Kostitsyn. As Shawn Thornton was heading off the ice, Ryan O'Byrne appeared to intentionally bump into Thornton to challenge him. Thornton dropped the gloves and O'Byrne immediately turtled and went into the fetal position on the ice. If Bruins fans needed another reason to hate O'Byrne, they got it. Thornton was given 2 minutes for roughing, while the cowardly purse snatcher was sent off for 14 minutes (double minor for roughing and a 10 minute misconduct).
The Bruins extended their lead to 3-1 on a power play goal by Mark Recchi, who tipped in Chara's shot at 5:30 of the second period.
The rough stuff continued just over 6:00 minutes into the second period. During yet another scrum, Shane Hnidy and
Maxim Lapierre (Correction: Josh Gorges paired up with Hnidy. Gorges tried to hang on for dear life and was only given a 2 minute minor for roughing, while Hnidy received 5 for fighting. Lapierre also was given 5 for fighting for his actions in the fracas.)
Matt D'Agostini put the Habs back to within one with a power play goal at 7:27 of the second period on a wrist shot from the high slot.
With just over 8 minutes gone in the second period, Mike Komisarek laid a marginal hit from behind on Milan Lucic. Shawn Thornton appeared to come to the aid of his teammate and was ready to square up with Komisarek when Lucic jumped Komisarek from behind and pulled him to the ice with a horse collar. Lucic seemed to overact to the hit and lost his composure at an inopportune time. Lucic was given 14 minutes in penalty time (2 for slashing, 2 for roughing, and a 10 minute misconduct). This proved to be a major turning point for the Habs who seemed have all the momentum after this incident.
Mathieu Schneider, who was playing in his first game after missing 2 games with an upper body injury, tied up the game at 3 with 9:32 left in the second on a slapper from the top of the right circle. The power play goal was Schneider's 9th of the season.
Matt D'Agostini gave Montreal the 4-3 lead with 3:07 left in the middle period when he won a battle for the puck in the neutral zone along the left wing boards, beat Blake Wheeler in a foot race, and fired a wrister past Tim Thomas.
Things settled down a bit in the third period after a crazy second period that featured 6 goals and 49 penalty minutes. The Bruins went on the power play 4:47 into the third when Mathieu Dandenault put the puck over the glass and was whistled for delay of game. Zdeno Chara got the equalizer 40 seconds into the power play when he put home a rebound in front with a backhand sweep.
With nothing resolved after 60 minutes of play, the teams headed for overtime giving Montreal the point that they needed to clinch a playoff spot. The Canadiens started the overtime session with a 4 on 3 power play stemming from a Steve Montador holding call late in the third period. The Bruins had a great opportunity to end the game when Steve Montador got the puck while exiting the penalty box and broke in all alone on Carey Price, but couldn't find the back of the net. Just over midway through overtime, Maxime Lapierre carried the puck through his own zone and was stood up at his own blue line by a big hit from Patrice Bergeron. After separating Lapierre from the puck, Bergeron collected the puck, skated in and feed a pass to Mark Recchi, who was driving to the net. Recchi one-timed Bergeron's pass from in close for the game winner.
- This was one of the most entertaining games to watch and one of the most exhausting games to recap this season.
- Great games from Patrice Bergeron (1 goal, 2 assists) and Mark Recchi (2 goals, 2 assists) .
- A Boston-Montreal first round series is looking more and more likely.
- The Bruins recorded 15 hits in the first period.
- P.J. Axelsson missed the game with an undisclosed injury and the Bruins looked like a team that was missing one of their top penalty killers. The Canadiens were 3 for 7 on the power play tonight.