The latest from Karine Hains...
Tonight was not just another Saturday night, yes it marked yet another Canadiens vs. Bruins battle but it was also Carey Price’s first chance to overtake Patrick Roy in the win column in the Montreal Canadiens uniform and he did not miss it!
Prior to the game, there was a lot of talk about the fact that Charles Hudon was getting back in the line-up in Andrew Shaw’s spot who’s had one too many Ryan White moments lately. As for Karl Alzner, he got back in the line-up by default since Noah Juulsen was injured last game...One really has to wonder what will happen to him once Shea Weber claims back his spot on the blue line.
Tonight, I watched the pre-game on TVA Sports which I hardly ever do but since theirs was starting earlier, I figured why not. It gave me the opportunity to see a short interview with Gallagher who was asked: “The Canadiens were swept by the Bruins in last year season’s series, how does it feel to be back in Boston?” Gally looked straight at the camera, gave it his now patented Gallagher grin and said: “It’s good to be back!”. Right there and then, I knew the Habs captain in spirit would have a good game.
The start of the first period was somewhat worrying for la Sainte-Flanelle as the first minutes belonged to the Bruins. They weathered the storm however and the fans’ beloved number 11 opened the scoring for the visitors just after the 9 minutes mark. It sure did look like he felt good to be back at TD Garden!
It was a rather pretty play by Gallagher who served a strong cup of coffee to Noel Acciari before beating Tuukka Rask from a very slim angle. In all fairness, the Bs goaltender should have had that one but he’s never been at his best against the Canadiens. Just over a minute later, the Canadiens were crashing Boston’s net with waves of attacks when Max Domi got the puck in the slot, fanned on the shot before falling to his knees and scoring from there. It truly was a thing of beauty and just like that the Habs were up by 2. The rest of the 1st was somewhat eventless aside from an accidental bump into Pastrnak by Jesperi Kotkaniemi which meant that Marchand gave him an earful and a penalty to Matthew Peca 15 minutes in. During that penalty kill, Price made a couple of big saves and it was easy to see that he was dialled-in tonight.
The Bruins came out to play in the second period and manage to shoot on Carey Price 12 times but he was having none of it. In fact, he flashed the leather a few times à la Patrick Roy, the very man he was trying to overtake tonight. The fully extended glove move during which he even took Madonna’s advice to “strike the pose” was spectacular and took me back a few years to this very moment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UumpTDdwHJg... I know, the English broadcast also showed that clip, but check my Twitter page, I was ahead of them by 47 minutes precisely.
The Bruins did think that they had cut the Habs’ lead in half when Donato’s shot beat Price high on the blocker side but an astute offside challenge resulted in the goal being disallowed.
In the third, Joel Armia took a tripping penalty and it looked like that might just be the chance the Bruins needed but no dice! Paul Byron’s forecheck on Tuukka Rask forced the Bruins goalie to trip him and the Boston power play ended that way. A few minutes later, Marchand tried to wake up his team by roughing up Jonathan Drouin but both players were sent to the sin bin.
While I do not like to see Drouin sitting there, there’s no doubt that I much prefer Marchand to be in there than on the ice with the normally lethal first Bruins line. Nicolas Deslauriers also had a penalty later for hooking against David Krejci and while he did have 5 hits in the game, I’m starting to wonder if he really fits in the new system.
Speed isn’t his forte and I’d quite like to perhaps see Armia demoted to the fourth line (how many times this season has he been unable to bury Kotkaniemi’s fantastic set ups?) and put Scherbak on a line with the Finnish youngster and Paul Byron. I’m aware that Sherbak’s effort level may not always be what it should be but it’s undeniable that he has skills and silky hands. Looking back to last season, 3 of his goals were candidate for goal of the year and he should surely be given a chance to prove his worth this season.
The Bruins did make a final push to get back in the game by adding a sixth skater but Price resisted while Jordie Benn used a bounce on the ramp to score an empty netter, perhaps he could turn to billiards once his hockey career is over.
At the final buzzer, the score was 3-0 Montreal and the Canadiens notched their first win in Boston since October 22, 2016. The game will no doubt be remembered however as Price’s 290th win in le bleu, blanc, rouge allowing him to overtake Patrick Roy in the Habs’ record book in spectacular fashion by posting a 33 saves (of all numbers) shutout. The Habs will be back in action on Tuesday when they’ll host the Dallas Stars and I believe we may see a very nice Price video tribute.