Hello Game 7, my old friend...
The Montreal Canadiens defended their home-ice in Game 6 on Monday night, shutting out the Bruins 4-0 and forcing a decisive Game 7 Wednesday at 7:00 pm in Boston.
|Off on the wrong foot: a defensive blunder set the tone early in favor of the Habs (via ESPN.com)|
Lars Eller and Max Pacioretty each scored once, while Thomas Vanek added a pair to pace the Canadiens to the win.
Tuukka Rask saved 24 shots in the losing effort.
Right from the get-go, the Bruins simply did not have their A-game on the night and it was clear as day to see. Montreal outshot the Bruins 11-8 in the first period and opened the scoring just two minutes into the game off a pretty horrific defensive blunder.
Just 2:11 into the game, with the Bruins failing to clear their zone under the heavy forecheck of the Habs, it was Torey Krug who bounced a puck off the end-boards behind the net to Kevan Miller in the corner. Miller totally lost control of the puck and it sprung off his stick into open space in front of the net, where Lars Eller was waiting to pounce on it. He deked around Rask, who dove forward trying to get the poke-check on Eller.
Rask did make an incredible stick save on Brendan Gallagher later in the period, swiping the puck off the goal-line to deny the Habs' agitator his second goal in as many games and keeping the score at 1-0.
|Stick-save and a beauty; Rask denies Gallagher in the first (via ESPN.com)|
The Bruins did what they could to turn the tide in the second period, as they established periods of dominance in the Canadiens' zone for minutes on end. But in the end, it was the Canadiens who added two more goals towards the latter part of the period, ballooning the lead to 3-0 and effectively ending the game at that point.
At 15:24, Max Pacioretty scored his first-goal of the series when he split the defense and got inside position on Zdeno Chara as he barreled down on Rask and beat him with through the five-hole with the shot. The Bruins had been dominating play up to that point, and Pacioretty's goal was a total backbreaker to give up.
|Pacioretty puts the Habs up 2-0 in the second (via ESPN.com)|
Thomas Vanek put home the third Habs goal of the night on the powerplay at 17:39, flipping home a loose puck off to the side of the net past Rask. With Greg Campbell in the box for a high-stick on Andrei Markov, the Habs wasted no time in cashing in, as they took only 30 seconds to capitalize.
The Bruins couldn't get much going early in the third, as it was the Canadiens who continued to pressure the Bruins and Rask, with the most notable chance coming from Pacioretty, who split the defense and got Rask down on the ice, but he ran out of space on the angled shot and fired it into the side netting.
Just a few shifts later, Milan Lucic tripped up P.K. Subban at the Canadiens' blueline, putting the Habs on the power-play for the third time on the night.
The Bruins killed the penalty and on the ensuing shift threw some pucks towards Price, but again it was the B's who couldn't find the net with their shots.
Halfway through the period, the Bruins thought they had finally put something in the net when a puck flipped off of and behind Carey Price, with Milan Lucic crashing the net. The puck was dancing on the goal-line and moving backwards across the ice with an incredible amount of backspin, which allowed David Desharnais to swipe the puck off the goal line before it was able to complete one last rotation, or hit any possible thing to push it across the final inch needed. The refs reviewed the call and because Desharnais didn't close his hand on the puck, it wasn't a penalty.
|The goal that wasn't: somehow, the puck doesn't cross the line, leaving the Bruins scoreless (via ESPN.com)|
The Canadiens killed the remainder of the clock, and save for a bit of rough stuff at the end of the period between Zdeno Chara, Jarome Iginla, Milan Lucic of the B's and Mike Weaver and Andrei Markov of the Canadiens, the game ended without much else from either team.
The Bruins had moments where they controlled the play and dominated possession, most notably the first half of the second period, but a few breakdowns here and missed scoring chances there damned them in their fight to earn a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.
After playing their best game of the series in Game 5, the Bruins did a poor job of even coming halfway close to repeating their performance. They always say the 4th win is the hardest to get, and the Bruins have a long history of backing that up.
So we have Game 7 on Wednesday with a trip to the Eastern Finals on the line.
Remember to breathe.