Love this game. Love this game to death.
Ah, the ol’ first period blues. Works every time.
Boston started sluggishly, not helped along by the fact their star rookie defender just so happened to take a flying question mark to the lower body and had to leave the game super early, and topping off a slow start was some boneheaded turnovers in their own end that meant Anton Khudobin had to come up huge in order to keep things orderly. They did hammer Antti Niemi with shots, but the only one that counted was off of a disastrous Kevan Miller turnover that gave Brandon Gallagher the puck and he wired the puck home to bring the Habs a 1-0 lead.
Jesus, Kev. Where were you going with that?
For fans, this might’ve felt like a “here we go again” moment where Montreal gets crazily lucky and yet does mostly nothing to end up winning the game.
Boston had other ideas around the 17 minute mark, where it seemed like the B’s were well and truly woken from their slumber, and Montreal was in for it.
In for it they were, because Antti Niemi got almost 20 shots dumped on him over this 20 minutes and for extended stretches, Boston just kept the pressure up. Regrettably, Niemi decided he wanted to replay his 2009-10 season for just as long. As far as anyone’s aware, missed chances and Niemi were the sole reason this game was not immediately 5-1 after saves like this:
Of course, Montreal did attempt to remind people that there were other roster players on the ice, but Anton Khudobin made sure to turn away all of Montreal’s chances. And what few chances they got were pretty darn good.
Of course, by that point, it was starting to become more than a little aggravating.
The onslaught on Niemi’s crease was seemingly never-ending.
Boston just kept unloading shot after shot, even if it wasn’t a good shot, onto Montreal’s goaltender and tried to claw their way back. It took almost 17 minutes to do that. It took a delay of game penalty from Drouin to get the B’s on a power play. It took Anton Khudobin making a save with his head to keep the game within reach. Among all the other incredible stops he made.
It took a one in a million stick position by Jake DeBrusk. And a bomb of a shot from Nick Holden.
And a redirection so perfect it might as well have been shot like that.
The clock struck zero, both teams got a point, and on to Overtime we go.
Brad Marchand does truly elite Brad Marchand things, dominates the Habs defensively, and scores on a shot Niemi would probably like to have back if he could move to win the game for Boston, 2-1.
And Boston gets to celebrate the first season sweep of their hated rivals in just a little over two decades.
- Boston had 50 shots on net. 50. They dominated Montreal in nearly every single aspect of the game: shots, possession, scoring chances, high danger chances, you name it? Boston dictated it, and the pace for this game from the 17 minute mark of the first on and Montreal seemingly had no answer for it except for their staple of breakout chances that either go in or give a goalie a great highlight.
- No surprises that two of the NHL’s three stars of the game were Anton Khudobin and Antti Niemi. This was a goalie duel, especially in the 1st where Boston was still tuning up. Even if Niemi showed up with a water gun and Khudobin showed up with a firehose.
- Rick Nash must love playing with David Krejci. A guy who loves to shoot with a guy who can create holes in the opponent’s defense seemingly at will. He had a team leading 8 SOG last night.
- Jake DeBrusk has been drawing penalties, skating with urgency, getting some great scoring chances, crushed it on FF% (unblocked shots on goal, over 87% of his shots made it to Niemi last night) and was more than likely the savior of this game by sheer chance and a beautiful redirect. Having another shoot-first player on his wing was a godsend for him. But not as much as...
- Nick Holden! He’s been pretty good in the admittedly short time he’s actually been a roster member playing NHL hockey. He’s gonna need to bottle this performance and use it if McAvoy is out for any extended period of time.
- Your skating ice-time leader? Torey Krug! Helps he got more than bolstered by the six power plays Boston had all game. He finished the night with 2 assists, one that got Marchand his game winner!
- Kevan Miller had himself a real clunker of a night, making passes with seemingly no rhyme or reason to them. With any luck, this is just jitters and he’ll be fine come Tuesday.
- Boston will have to take a good hard look at their depth to see what they are without Charlie McAvoy, even if he’s not out for long.
- A lot of young faces you currently see drinking at games weren’t old enough to say their own first names correctly the last time Boston swept Montreal in a season. Don’t you feel old yet?
- How have you not watched this beautiful Brad Marchand shift over and over yet? Get back in this article and marvel at it.
- 40 wins! Six games back from Tampa! And Toronto got their clocks cleaned against Washington out of doors! First in the Atlantic is not just a fable! IT’S A POSSIBILITY!