There are a couple of games each season that seem to drastically shape the course of the games ahead, true momentum-changers that can either send a team soaring to new heights (like the Stars brawl game in 2008, after which the Bruins went on a 23-2-1 tear) or crashing to previously unforeseen depths (like the Buffalo Sabres after the Lucic-Miller incident).
Last night's was one of those games.
Down 1-0 the third on a night where the bounces just didn't seem to be there, the Bruins stormed back with three unanswered goals to beat Montreal, 3-1, for their first regular season win against the Habs since 2014.
The stunning win had its roots in a bad situation: already down a goal, Dennis Seidenberg got whistled for taking down Dale Weise on a breakaway, giving the league's sixth-best power play a chance to extend the lead.
Third period. Close game. Montreal PP. To say Bruins fans feared the worst was about to happen is probably an understatement.
However, the Bruins stepped up: the PKers held Montreal at bay until PK Subban's desperate toss into the corner was batted out of mid-air by Zdeno Chara. Loui Eriksson flew the zone and didn't miss.
Suddenly, the comeback was on. Claude Julien, in one of the many good lineup decisions he made last night, rolled out a new line of Ryan Spooner, Landon Ferraro and Brett Connolly.
The three speedsters overwhelmed Montreal in their own end, buzzing around like toddlers who were just given free reign in a candy shop.
The Habs got caught chasing the puck, leaving Ferraro plenty of room to set up camp in the slot. A beautiful Spooner pass (that may have been intended for Connolly, really) arrived, and Ferraro continued to make Don Sweeney look like a genius.
While Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron would do Marchand and Bergeron things to increase the lead to two, the real story of the night was the play of the most-maligned Bruin of the year thus far: Tuukka Rask.
Rask was immense, stopping 25 shots in the first two periods alone. Rask was the only reason the Bruins were within a goal at the start of the third, the only reason the game was within reach.
At the end of the game, the Bruins were badly out-shot, out-possessioned, out-fancy statsed (I'm making up words at this point), etc. But Rask stood tall.
It was the kind of game fans have been clamoring for Rask to provide, an "elite goalie" type game. A vocal segment of the fanbase firmly believes Rask is overpaid and should have been stealing some early-season wins; last night, they got their wish on a big stage.
- The Bruins' final PK was immense. With just over five minutes left in the game, a Habs goal to cut the lead to one would have been disastrous. After the penalty ended, the Habs maintained possession for what seemed like a good 30 seconds, but the puck stayed out. Ferraro and Max Talbot were two guys who really stood out.
- Patrice Bergeron does at least one thing per game that makes you really sit back and appreciate him as a player. Last night's came in the neutral zone, when he (seemingly in one motion) stripped the puck from Andrei Markov and flipped it across the ice to an open teammate. It resulted in a great scoring chance and an avalanche of Bergeron praise on Twitter from both local and national media.
- This is not a good thing for an observer of the opponent to be able to say.