The day leading up to this game was not confidence-inspiring, I’ll readily admit. However, there’s a little solace in the Bruins-Habs rivalry even if there’s the threat of a blowout loss. These two teams did not disappoint.
This one truly got underway early. Hits were finished hard in the first minute, and the new-look top line of Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - David Backes showed some immediate gains through chip-and-chase zone time. When Montreal would try and clear the zone, they’d have to go through strong wing coverage at the boards and His Holiness Patrice in the middle. Not an easy task. Where the Bergeron line gained, the Krejci line lost; there were some chances but pass-favoring Krejci made some too-cute plays that resulted in turnovers or scoring chances that came too late.
Tuukka was called on early and often to make big saves, and he didn’t disappoint. An early penalty on Marchand gave Montreal a power play opportunity. Fortunately, the Bruins cleared the puck well, but Montreal WAS able to get some attack time and settle in.
The second half of this period is where things got interesting.
David Pastrnak chases a chipped puck along the right boards, and Alexei Emelin made sure he knew exactly how far he was from the boards.
Just a few seconds later, Torey Krug dropped the hammer on Andrew Shaw, really setting this one off. This hit is now under review by the league, because the initial point of contact was Shaw’s head; we’ll see how the league comes down on Shaw’s reach, and whether it prevented Krug from laying an ordinary full-body hit.
Brendan Gallagher wanted to make Krug pay, but ice is slippery.
This period ends with some pleasantries exchanged between Kevan Miller and Alexander Radulov, after the latter laid a strong, potentially late hit on the former. Matching minors for 4-on-4 play that carried into the second. Noel Acciari also came to Miller’s defense initially, and kept #47 in mind for the rest of the night.
The physicality carried further into the second period in a big way.
Joe Morrow takes a penalty 32 seconds into this period, and for a minute it looks like the wheels are going to fall off this game. However, a strong block by McQuaid and a rung-post by Nathan Beaulieu gave the Bruins the energy to finish the kill, and disaster was averted.
Kevan Miller, a frequent whipping boy of the Bruins’ faithful, stood out as a contributor in this period. There were several instances where a play in the neutral zone was disrupted juuuust enough to stop a clean entry by Montreal, and he lit up Shaw and Emelin a few times, for good measure.
At the midway point, the Bruins found themselves chasing a bit - play was back and forth, one shot and done, for a few minutes. David Pastrnak rang a post so loud Montreal fans called 911 for ear damage. Crossing the midway point, the Bruins managed to tilt the ice back in their favor, gaining an advantage over Montreal (if only for a few minutes). Both Price and Rask were forced to make doorstop saves, as both teams put an emphasis on crashing the crease.
On one of these crashes by Montreal, the puck got left behind in the high slot, and McQuaid jumped on it. Turning up ice in a 3-on-1 situation (though, McQuaid has stone feet, so he got passed immediately by a backchecker), he fed it ahead of Austin Czarnik, who rushed in with support and sniped a short-side goal to put the Bruins on the board first.
Scoring this late in the second bodes well for the early third period, as the Bruins managed to pull Montreal too far forward in their attempts to tie the game in the final minute. The energy was getting to Montreal, who showed some frustration.
The (un)pleasantries continued, though it seemed muted for a bit as neither team wanted to take a penalty. That is, until, Emelin lowered the boom on Marchand around 6 minutes in:
Emelin takes our Marchand and continues to single-handedly reignite the rivalry. pic.twitter.com/4RhMgZCJxz— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) December 13, 2016
Shaw attempted revenge. Good thing somebody hit someone at some point to necessitate the structural redesign of the turnbuckle.
Thank god for the curved glass. pic.twitter.com/0FAICJ8wvb— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) December 13, 2016
Late in the period, however, K. Miller attempted to clear the crease and inadvertently chipped the puck directly to Byron, who has frequently been in the right place at the right time as of late and buried a backhander from the slot to tie the game.
1-1 score would hold up, and we headed into OT.
Back and forth play, as OT tends to produce; there were a couple early sequences, and on a chip-in by Montreal, Rask comes out to play the puck, and...
What a sequence in Habs/ Bruins OT. Rask takes out ref and then gets taken out pic.twitter.com/DWxqymXsm2— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) December 13, 2016
Fortunately, everyone skated away unscathed. Then, Pastrnak drove hard to the net, nearly tucking the puck past Price’s left toe. While avoiding an interference call, the tip-in by Krejci following Pastrnak’s crash didn’t hold up to video review, as the officials ruled that the puck entered the net after the goalie had been interfered with.
That was the FIRST review.
On another sequence, with the puck held high in the zone, Spooner lays a rinkwide backhand lob to Krug, who gloves the puck down and passes it quickly back to Spooner, who had cut in from his pass, leaving the 1-on-1 coverage by Radulov at his back. He received the pass, deked, and tucked the puck five-hole on Price, the puck just trickling between his legs and into the net.
That was the SECOND review... because Marchand might’ve been offsides. Toronto’s war room called for the review, and the goal stood, giving the Bruins a 2-1 victory.
- Bruins-Habs haven’t always lived up to their billing as of late, but this year’s close tilts have all proven entertaining. It’s also nice to see that the Bruins can match up with the top teams in the league on occasion.
- Tuukka. Rask. Stood. Tall.
- While it would’ve been nicer to finish a 1-0 game, it tastes nearly as good when you win the game in OT. Montreal got the LOSER point, and the final matchup between these two teams on February 12th may make a fine preview for the playoffs.