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Bruins Narrow Series Gap With 4-2 Win

Facing a 2-0 series deficit with a pair of losses at home, the Bruins pulled off a win in that most hostile of climates, the Bell Centre. 

Zdeno Chara made his return to the lineup, getting his expected reception from the Montreal faithful.  Chara looked a little out of sorts early, when Boston took a quick penalty for too many men on the ice.  It appeared that Chara came on the ice too quickly.  However, the ensuing penalty kill was effective, and turned into a quick scoring chance for the B's, with David Krejci giving Boston its first lead of the series at 3:11 of the first. 

The Bruins were creating chances early and often in this one.  A 2 on 1 was washed out when James Wisniewski dove to the ice and forced a stoppage.  A subsequent 3 on 1 led to a Scott Gomez interference penalty for shoving Chris Kelly into the goal.  Nathan Horton made it 2-0 on his first career playoff goal at 14:38 of the first.  Slightly behind the net, Horton shot it toward net hoping for a deflection, and got one.  The shot banked off Carey Price and knuckled just millimeters over the goal line. 

Late in the period, with the puck deep in the Boston zone, Benoit Pouliot left his feet and jumped at Johnny Boychuk who was along the boards.  He got two minutes for charging, but Andrew Ference took exception and the two had a quality middleweight bout.  It looked like Ference got the better of the exchange, though not by much, before scoring the takedown. This somewhat biased observer scored the bout 10-9 Ference.  (Speaking of biased, Jack and Brick were in rare form last night, more on that below the fold.)

In the second, Boston made it 3-0 on a big-time blunder by Carey Price.  Price was trying to play the puck out of his own zone, but didn't have a clear lane to do so.  His attempt to clear banked off Mark Recchi, who kicked it to Rich Peverley, and Peverley put it in a wide-open net.  Montreal was rattled at this point, and took their own too many men penalty shortly after. 

The turning point in the game came at the 7 minute mark.  Milan Lucic stole the puck at center ice, raced in and tried to beat Price low on the stick side.  Price made the stop, and the puck was whipped back up ice by Roman Hamrlik, to Mike Cammalleri, and Cammalleri fed Andrei Kostitsyn, who made a nifty stickhandling display and beat Tim Thomas five-hole.  Kostitsyn's stickhandling was marvelous on the play, but the shot was from a poor angle and Thomas should have stopped it.

After being dominated for the first 22 minutes, Montreal looked much better from that point on.  And at 4:08 of the third, they narrowed the deficit again.  Tomas Plekanac had the puck down low, and with Chara crowding him to the goal line, Plekanac threw the puck on net, and it beat Thomas for a goal so soft it could have been sponsored by Charmin.  Chara had perfect positional play on this one; Thomas just let in a softie.

The Plekanac goal was the last Thomas would let in, however.  Despite giving up two weak goals earlier in the game, Thomas was a brick wall for the last 15 minutes.  Montreal peppered the net with 15 third period shots, many of which were high-quality. 

Chris Kelly put the nail in the coffin, with an empty netter at 19:34 for the final margin.

  • The big difference between this game and the first two is that Boston did a much better job of avoiding turnovers and capitalizing on Montreal's.  The Bruins had an absurd 14 turnovers in game 1, and 6 last night.  All told, this series is being played at a very physical level; the teams are averaging 58 hits between them per game (an average NHL game has about 45, for perspective).  If that keeps up, it would seem to favor the Bruins. 
  • Bergeron was the game's first star, with 2 assists and a +3 rating.  Chara led the Bruins with 26:20 of ice time.  Safe to say he's okay now.
  • The Bruins were outshot in this one 36-25, and the team with more shots is now 0-3 in this series.
  • Whatever shortcomings Ference may have, he's been consistent about sticking up for his teammates this year. 
  • The Pouliot penalty was the moment when Jack and Brick threw out whatever halfhearted attempts they were going to make at objectivity.  Jack exclaimed that Pouliot was "one of the greatest disappointments in National Hockey League history."  I'm not going to go out of my way to defend Pouliot, but that's a pretty bold claim to make in a draft that featured Gilbert Brule, Jack Skille and Brian Lee going just after Pouliot, and a dead guy going 10th.  Brick lost it when he thought that no penalty was called, even though the linesman clearly had his arm raised milliseconds after Pouliot hit the boards. Jack later yelled "get up!" at Roman Hamrlik and yelped that Montreal was trying to "nurse ridiculous calls from the referees."  Puck Daddy has you covered with a greatest hits. 
  • The officiating in this one was, as you might expect, uneven at best.  There were a couple ticky-tacky calls on Boston early, but when Peverley was upended in the first, away from the puck, on a play nearly identical to one that Brad Marchand got 2 minutes for in game 1, there was no call.  Wisniewski's Oscar-winning flop that stopped play was another fine example.  The Bruins did a great job of not getting rattled by that, or the Montreal crowd.  
  • Boston was 0/4 on the power play, Montreal 0/5.  Montreal is now 1/12 on the power play in this series, a statistic I am certain the Bruins would have gleefully accepted at the start of the series. 
  • You should know by now where to find SB Nation's Canadiens site, but just in case, here's Habs Eyes on the Prize.
  • The teams have an extra day off because some washed-up band of Leaf fans are playing at the Bell Centre.  Tickets still available!  Game 4 will be Thursday night, 7 pm.