The Montreal Canadiens aim to take a 2-0 series lead against the Boston Bruins when the two teams face off at the TD Garden in Boston this afternoon.
Montreal was able to hang on through long stretches of Bruin dominance in game one, setting the scene for a P.K. Subban game winner in double overtime on a power play. Subban had opened the scoring with a man advantage as well, and was one of the best players on the ice, leading both teams in ice time as well with 33:49.
Rene Bourque continued his hot postseason when Lars Eller sent him in on a two on one early in the second period. Bourque’s shot beat Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask between the pads, and gave the Habs a 2-0 edge.
Montreal would hang on to the two goal lead until early in the third when a Reilly Smith shot from a bad angle fooled Carey Price and found the back of the net. Less than four minutes later, Torey Krug was left wide open in the Canadiens zone and Milan Lucic fed with a pass. Krug made no mistake hammering home his second of the playoffs to tie the game at two with 13:30 to play.
The Bruins stormed the Canadiens zone for much of the rest of the game, and would finally be rewarded when Johnny Boychuk absolutely blasted a shot through a screen and hit the back of the Habs net.
Boston dominated the third period, outshooting the Habs 14-6 and outscoring the visitors 3-1. The shot total would be the same in the opening 20 minutes of overtime, but both goaltenders would stand tall and keep the game tied at three heading into double OT.
The Habs fourth line got possession of the puck deep in the Bruins zone and created a great chance when Dale Weise cut to the net. He was grabbed and hauled down by Bruin defender Matt Bartkowski who was sent to the box for holding.
The Canadiens jumped on the opportunity when Tomas Plekanec beat Patrice Bergeron on the ensuing faceoff and Daniel Briere tapped the puck back to Andrei Markov. Markov immediately found Subban who launched the puck into the back of the net, giving the Canadiens an improbable victory.
The Habs now have a chance to do what they did in round one against the Tampa Bay Lightning and take a 2-0 series lead on the road. It will be a tough test to knock off the Bruins twice in a row at TD Garden, where they were 31-7-3 in the regular season.
The Canadiens are not expected to make any lineup changes, so expect the lines to be:
Brandon Prust – Tomas Plekanec – Brandon Gallagher
Rene Bourque – Lars Eller – Brian Gionta
Travis Moen – Daniel Briere – Dale Weise
Josh Gorges – P.K. Subban
Andrei Markov – Alexei Emelin
Francis Bouillon – Mike Weaver
The Habs top line of Desharnais, Pacioretty and Vanek played their worst game of the playoffs in game one and need to be much better this afternoon. They can be, and I predict they will combine for a pair of goals today.
The Bourque, Eller and Gionta trio have played their five best games of the season since the postseason began, and I would not expect them to have a bad game now. Whatever clicked when the regular season ended made all three of these players much better than they had been all season.
The Plekanec, Prust and Gallagher line gives fans the least to worry about. They weren’t at their best in game one but chalk it up to rust and they will be the same old players you have come to expect, good, but far from flashy.
Daniel Briere frustrates me to no end and he continues to look worse and worse. He went through a lengthy benching in game one but as the game went on and on he began to get a few more shifts. He ended up with an assist on the overtime winner, giving him two overtime points on two OT goals this postseason.
The Habs top four defenders have played very well since the playoffs began. They were as dependable and reliable as you have come to expect from them with one exception, Subban. P.K. was not just dependable or reliable, he was flat out brilliant in game one. He always steps his game up in a big way against the Bruins, so expect him to do so once again today.
The Habs will be playing a highly motivated Bruins team today, but they were excellent in game one as well and Montreal found a way to win. If Price is as good as he was in the opener when he stopped 48 shots, the Habs have a great chance to come back home with a two game lead.
For the best deals on Montreal Canadiens tickets visit TiqIQ.com