On Monday morning, Montreal Canadiens' right winger Dale Weise told
reporters that he and the rest of his Habs teammates were pulling for
the Boston Bruins to beat the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night, hoping
that they extended the league's longest winning streak of the season to
twelve in a row.
It wasn't because he's a Bruins' fan.
"We were checking the score the other night against Phoenix, and Phoenix was up going into the third period and we were kinda hoping that Boston would come back and win so we could get the chance to knock them off," Weise panned.
|Bruins' Kevan Miller sent Habs' Travis Moen to the room for repairs|
That turned out well, didn't it?
The visiting Canadiens rode the super-human effort of netminder Peter Budaj to get to free hockey, and Alex Galchenyuk potted the lone shootout goal as the hated Habs snapped the National Hockey league's longest winning streak of the season, knocking off the Bruins' 2-1 in a game that took three hours to complete.
Alexei Emelin scored the lone regulation goal for the Canadiens and centerman Patrice Bergeron was the only Bruin to solve Budaj, who stopped 29 of the 30 attempts by the Bruins while Boston goalie Tuukka Rask was nearly as stingy, stoning 22 of 23 Habs' offerings.
None of the players participating in the Bruins' rivalry with the Canadiens needed any extra motivation for Monday night's grudge match at TD Garden in downtown Boston, but the prospect of taking away a winning streak from the Bruins that has captivated the world of hockey brought an edge to the Canadiens' effort - even if the Bruins refused to acknowledge the streak's existence.
Weise laid down the gauntlet by letting the cat out of the bag to reporters on Monday morning, but paid a heavy price for his words - Bruins' defenseman Kevan Miller riding the rouge forward into the end boards less than five minutes into play, hard enough to make him kiss the ice for a a second or two, and when Weise's linemate Travis Moen came to his teammate's defense, Miller fed him a knuckle sandwich.
Both Weise and Moen were escorted to the room for treatment and Miller headed to the bin, and the latest chapter in the storied rivalry had it's lead - the rookie Miller adding his name to the already well documented lore of the Original Six struggle by taking out two Canadiens in one play.
Actually, that lead was written a couple of minutes earlier, just over a minute into the game when defenseman Alexei Emelin went low on Milan Lucic at the center line that sent him cartwheeling, the momentum from his full head of steam guiding him into the bin side dashers...
...but before Lucic could gain his feet, Bruins' captain Zdeno Chara had become involved, shoving Emelin's face into the ice to take a roughing penalty - Lucic skating back to the bench chirping at Emelin about how he had just awakened the beast.
Indeed, the beast had been awakened, and he was pissed - but he looked more and more frustrated as time wore on, never really getting into any kind of offensive rhythm - the 16 penalties lending themselves to some choppy play, listless an-advantages and the aforementioned protracted game time.
Emelin managed to temporarily stave off the beast with a power play goal on the cross-checking penalty Miller took for planting Weise, his drive from the high point redirected inadvertently by the heel of Bruins' centerman Chris Kelly's stick and hitting the net top shelf over Rask's glove for a 1-0 lead...
...a lead that the Canadiens managed to hold on to into the third period by playing a safe brand of hockey - clogging the middle of the ice and directing everything to wings, a ploy that seemed to enrage the beast as frustration set in, the Bruins preoccupied with their inability to center the puck into the slot to get scoring chances - settling for long range sniper jobs that rarely found Budaj.
The tide turned early in the third period, however, just after the Bruins suffered through a horrific man-advantage in which the pesky Mike Weaver disrupted just about every pass the Bruins' tried to make - Weaver tried to play a puck along end boards when Lucic sized him up and smashed him into the glass, ragdolling Weaver and bringing the sellout crowd to it's feet and some focus back to the Bruins.
The signature freight train hit from Lucic served a dual purpose - to punish Weaver for being such a pain in butt and for a blind-side hit he had laid on Merlot line winger Daniel Paille in the middle frame.
Suddenly, the Bruins were the aggressors and started willing their way through the Montreal defense, but past them was Budaj, who continued to stop any puck shot his way - that is until Bergeron managed to set up shop in the high slot and deflect a Dougie Hamilton rocket through his five hole with five and a half minutes left in regulation to forge a one-all tie...
...but neither team could find twine in the final moments of the third nor in overtime, the game coming down to a shootout, with Budaj stoning Bergeron, Jarome Iginla, Brad Marchand and David Krejci in succession, while Rask turned away efforts by Thomas Vanek, David Desharnias and David Briere before Galchenyuk's game winner four frames in.
So, the streak is over - that 12-game elephant in the room that the Bruins would have you believe never existed - missing out on the Baker's Dozen with the shootout loss, and now only able to claim going thirteen games, spanning three-and-a-half weeks, without a regulation loss.
Somehow that just doesn't have the same ring to it.