The Montreal Canadiens lost their second game in a row following a three game winning streak. With Shea Weber out of the lineup due to injury, the Habs had no answer for sniper David Pastrnak.
The Montreal Canadiens entered last night’s game with their oldest rival needing a victory. They were seven points back of the final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division and were coming off a tough, last minute loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Monday night. This team has a tendency to allow losing streaks to run to eight, so stopping this one as soon as possible is imperative.
They were dealt some bad news just hours before the game when it was revealed Shea Weber has an ankle sprain and will be out of the lineup 4-6 weeks. The Habs lean heavily on their top three defenders, Weber, Ben Chiarot and Jeff Petry but no one seems more ice time for the Canadiens than Weber.
Without him in the lineup, and facing a tough Boston Bruins squad, the Canadiens needed someone to step up and fill Weber’s shoes. Unfortunately, they don’t have that player just waiting in the wings. Normally Weber would take on the responsibility of shutting down the other team’s best line. In this case, that is the trio of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak.
In the absence of Weber, shutting down Pastrnak proved impossible. The right winger from the Czech Republic opened the scoring 6:59 into the game on a beautiful feed from Marchand. Marchand stole the puck from Jonathan Drouin at centre ice, deked around Jeff Petry, drew Brett Kulak towards him and then backhanded a perfect pass across the ice to a wide open Pastrnak who tapped it into the open net.
Pastrnak extended the lead to 2-0 in the second period when he accepted a cross-ice pass from Sean Kuraly and immediately stickhandled to his forehand, dancing around Carey Price in the process and fired the puck into the top of the net.
Less than a minute later, Nick Suzuki won a battle for the puck behind the Bruins goal with Zdeno Chara and got the puck back to the point. A Marco Scandella point shot then hit Suzuki as he made his way to the front of the net, bouncing off the seat of his pants into the Bruins goal.
Shortly after pulling within one, the Canadiens were heading to a power play. As the two teams lined up for the face-off in the Bruins zone, Brendan Gallagher and Zdeno Chara for into a bit of a pushing match. Chara then cross-checked Gallagher in the face. The type of move that should draw some attention from George Parros who is the head of player safety.
It didn’t however, grab the attention of the referees. At least not immediately. They conferred with each other for a bit and then decided to give Chara a two minute penalty for cross-checking and Gallagher a penalty as well for getting cross-checked in the face. It should have been a two minute five on three advantage for the Canadiens but it was not to be.
Pastrnak struck again later in the third to extend the Bruins lead to two goals. The Bruins were on a four on three power play and a one-timer from Brad Marchand resulted in a rebound that Bergeron took a swing at which ended up bouncing right to Pastrnak who swept it behind a scrambling Price.
It was Pastrnak’s second hat trick against the Canadiens this season. You may recall him pulling off the same feat back in November when the Bruins pounded the Canadiens 8-1 at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
Max Domi had two chances to pull the Habs within one before the end of the second frame but both times he rang the puck off the post. Carey Price did what he could to keep the Canadiens alive, as he faced a barrage of shots throughout the game.
The third period was pretty uneventful to start out, aside from a few more big saves from Price and Chara and Gallagher battling ferociously in front of the Bruins net. The Habs were gifted a penalty on a delay of game call on Charlie McAvoy for shooting the puck over the glass. The problem? The puck hit the glass on the way out and shouldn’t have been penalty, but the Habs couldn’t convert on the man advantage.
The Canadiens pulled Price in favour of an extra attacker with 2:30 to play but they could not create much offensively. With 20 seconds to play, Bergeron score into the empty net to give the Bruins a 4-1 lead. It was Boston’s third win in four meetings with the Canadiens this season.
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The Habs weren’t able to muster much offence after falling behind and were outshot 38-29. Their almost impossible quest for the postseason gets even more difficult with this loss. Boston has been the hardest place for opponent’s to win this season and the Canadiens fall to 0-2 when they travel to Massachusetts.