P.K. Subban’s second power play goal of the game at 4:17 of the second overtime period gave the Canadiens a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins in the opening game of the Eastern Conference semi-finals Thursday night. The Canadiens held a 2-0 lead going into the third period on goals by Subban and Rene Bourque but Boston battled back with Johnny Boychuk’s goal with 1:58 remaining in regulation time to send it to overtime. Also scoring for the Canadiens was Francis Bouillon. The other Boston goals came from Reilly Smith and Torey Krug. Carey Price stopped 48 of the 51 shots directed at him. Tuukka Rask faced 33 Canadiens shots. With the win, the Canadiens take home-ice advantage in the series with game two scheduled for Boston at 12:35 Saturday afternoon.
Adding It Up -
Prime Time – P.K. Subban was born to centre stage. The entire game revolved around him and he basked in it and came up with a virtuoso performance. His goals were completely different. He used threaded a wrist shot through a crowd to open the game’s scoring midway through the first. His game winner was off one his patented one-time blasts. Add to that a physical presence that must have been startling to the Bruins who are used to having their way in that department; Subban had 5 recorded hits and three blocked shots. With that you have the portrait of a very complete night’s work.
In Their Heads – Carey Price has given the Bruins something to think about over the next two days. Price talked about how his teammates kept Boston to the outside a lot during the game, but there were also those 28 scoring chances they had among the 51 shots and two crossbars. There were occasions during the game when the Bruins got out of the general rule -of-thumb coaching edict of keeping the game simple and started overhandling the puck because Price was so sharp.
Mr. Clutch – They told us Daniel Briere would contribute as soon as the playoffs rolled around. Considering his year, most took that with a shrug. So, two of the Canadiens five games have been decided in overtime. Briere has an assist on both overtime goals. On this game winner, after Plekanec beat the usually reliable Bergeron on the faceoff, Briere wheeled the puck back to Markov who put it over into Subban’s shooting wheelhouse to end the game. Might be a good thing to mention that the most important part of Subban’s first goal was that screen that Briere set to give the Canadiens the early lead.
Where’s Thomas? - Anyone paying attention knew by the mid-point of the first period that Thomas Vanek wasn’t himself. Michel Therrien pulled the plug on him one shift into the second period, replacing him with Dale Weise. on the Desharnais line. Injured? Just a bad night? Who knows. I think we can expect him back with Pacioretty and Desharnais on Saturday at least to open the game.
Unsung – The Canadiens were 2-for-3 on their power play. Dale Weise drew both penalties. On both of them he got behind Matt Bartkowski and forced the young Bruins defenceman to bring him down. Weise started the night on a line with Briere and Moen. When it appeared that Vanek was in trouble he wound up logging 25 tough shifts on four different lines and contributed with three shots and a couple of hits. Apparently they considered him a disrespected spare part in Vancouver in the John Tortorella scheme of things. In Montreal, he’s an important contributor.
All Said And Done– The Canadiens opened the scoring in the game and never trailed in the game. The Canadiens have played just over 17 periods of hockey in this playoff season and have been behind in the score a total of 3 ½ minutes. That was back in the opening game of the Lightning series in Tampa. Dare we mention that it is now a five game winning streak.
Also Worth Mentioning – Best line on the ice ….again – Eller/Bourque/Gionta. Who knew? Exactly one third of the Canadiens shots came from the line (11 of 33). Bourque and Eller had four each. Bourque got his 4th goal in five games plus an assist and had five hits. The line was on the ice for two of Habs four goals. ……Francis Bouillon came just that close to being hero for the second time in 6 weekls when he scored to give the Canadiens the lead with 8 minutes left. The Canadiens couldn’t hold it. Remember it was Bouillon’s overtime goal on almost an identical play, that won that record setting late game comeback against Ottawa March 15th at the Bell Centre. At age 38, Bouillon was the oldest player on the ice. He played 9 seconds short of twenty minutes. Bouillon’s defense partner, Mike Weaver was officially credited with 4 blocked shots. Really? Seems like he blocked twenty and every one of them looked like it would take his head off. …..In one of the more obscure statics that will be passed around over the next two days – “the team that has won Game 1 of the series between the Habs and Bruins has gone on to win 27 of 33 times.” The Canadiens built that statistic in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s when the team was winning at least five Cups a decade. Then, was then. Most recently (2011) the Bruins lost the first two games at home and still won the series. All of us should just take a deep breath and enjoy the moment.
For the Record – The teams combined to take 156 shots in the game, 98 by Boston. 84 of the shots were on-goal, 51 by Boston. There were 101 hits, 56 by the Bruins. 44 blocked shots – 30 by the Canadiens. There were also 16 takeaways, 13 of those by the Canadiens. Adding all of that up – the Bruins had the puck most of the night but still didn’t win. This game looked like almost every game the Canadiens played against the Bruins for the last two years. If you want to drag in regular season records it’s now five straight Boston home losses against the Habs. The Canadiens are 7-1-0 the last eight times they’ve played Boston. Saturday is another day.
Quote of the Night – P.K. Subban “A couple of years ago we came in here and took two games, went back, and we lost Game 7. I think there’s a lot of things we need to get better on. We can’t be giving up 50-plus shots. Price shouldn’t have to stop that many pucks.”
Next Up - Game two at TD Garden and then Games 3 & 4 at the Bell Centre Tuesday and Thursday.