Exercise the demon: 4-1 win snaps B's losing streak to Habs, extends their winning streak to six
It's been a long time coming.
The Boston Bruins got there first win in five tries vs the Montreal Canadiens with a 4-1 win at the Bell Centre, with goals from Carl Soderberg, Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara. Goalie Tuukka Rask turned aside 35 shots to backstop the B's to their 43rd win of the year and break the spell the Habs had cast over the B's.
The win extends the Bruins' season-best streak to six games.
Lucic's goal made it 3-0 B's (via F.Lacasse/Getty)
Boston hadn't beaten the Canadiens since February 6th, 2013, a full calender year and then some. The win goes beyond just the points in the standings, as it's unlikely the Habs, or any other team, will catch the Bruins by the end of the season.
Instead, the win was important for releasing the mental pressure that had built up over the last five losses, as the Canadiens, for whatever reason, had gotten inside the Bruins' heads.
Especially for goalie Tuukka Rask. Rask was pulled in the last meeting between the teams on January 30th at the Garden. Hiscareer win/loss record vs Montreal was 2-10-2 after the 4-1 drubbing. The win tonight takes a bit of the edge off going forward for Rask and the team.
Montreal outshot Boston 14-6 in the first period and got the better of the scoring chances in the first 20 minutes. But Rask kept the Habs off the board, with his best save-sequence coming late in the period when he stoned Max Pacioretty on a breakaway and gloved down a Lars Eller slapshot shortly there after.
After the scoreless first, the Bruins blew the game open with three goals in the second period, one each from Carl Soderberg, Patrice Bergeron and Milan Lucic. Carl Soderberg put home his 12th of the year just 1:33 into the second. Habs defeseman Jared Tinordi tried to play the puck off the endboards after a face-off win, but the puck dinged off the bottom of the net and right into the path of Soderberg. Carl made a quick to move to get around Peter Budaj and beat him on the stick side.
Patrice Bergeron made it 2-0 at 9:25 with one of the prettiest goals you'll see all season from Bruins. The long outlet pass came from Matt Barkowski in the corner and hit Brad Marchand in the neutral zone. With Andrei Markov out of position due to a trip up at the Bruins' blue-line, Reilly Smith and Bergeron joined the rush up the ice. Marchand and Bergeron played a give-and-go through Tinordi, and Bergeron was all alone in front of the net to one-time the puck into the open net.
KM86 and Prust drop the gloves(via R.Wolowicz/Getty)
Kevan Miller and Brandon Prust dropped the gloves shortly thereafter, with Prust trying to inject some life into the Habs. It was a pretty good bout, with both players getting good shots in, and Miller getting the takedown at the end of it.
But the fight did little to raise the game for the Canadiens, and towards the end of the frame, Milan Lucic shoved the dagger into the Habs' hearts on the night.
Lucic blasted home his 20th of the season at 18:32 through the five-hole of Budaj to put the B's up 3-0. With Jarome Iginla charging the zone on the side-boards, and David Krejci driving the net to draw the defensemen, Iginla left the drop-off pass for the trailing Lucic who one-timed it past Budaj.
To rub the ultimate form of salt in the wound for Canadiens fans, Zdeno Chara bagged the fourth goal of the night for the Black and Gold just 23 seconds into the final period. Brad Marchand broke up the exit pass from the Canadiens end, which resulted in a bad line change for the home team. Chara was left unmarked to enter the zone, and Marchand's pass found him in the slot. His initial shot hit Patrice Bergeron in the legs, but the rebound came right back to the big man who put home the second shot with ease. It was Chara's 15th on the year.
David Desharnais broke up the shutout at 2:46 with his 12th of the year, but that was as close as the Canadiens would get in the game.
Boston wound down the last 17 minutes and change, with the final horn heard by only the few thousand souls still left at the Bell Centre.
The 4-1 win extends Boston's winning streak to six games and balloons their lead in the Atlantic Division to 14 points over second place Toronto, with Montreal now sitting 15 back in third-place.
It seems a fait accompli that the Bruins will take the Division crown when all is said and done. With wins over Tampa Bay and Montreal in the past few days, the B's have built quit the lead atop the mountain. The goal now is to challenge Pittsburgh for the top-spot in the Conference.
The win gives Boston 43 on the season and 91 points, putting them just one point behind said Penguins.
Boston doesn't have long to feel good about the win, as they come right back home to play the Coyotes tomorrow at 7 p.m.