On this day in Habs history, The Boston Bruins ended a 12-game losing streak against the Montreal Canadiens during the 2008-09 season.
The mid to late 2000s was an interesting time for the Montreal Canadiens.
Following a 2007-08 season that saw the team finish 47-25-4 under second year head coach Guy Carbonneau, the Habs went into the 08-09 season with understandably high expectations. Star forward Alex Kovalev was coming off an 84-point campaign after a mediocre performance the previous year, and rookie sensation Carey Price was set for his first season as the team’s starting goaltender.
While Montreal had an okay 41-30-4 record, it was a November 13th match that marks this day in Habs history. With a solid 9-3-2 start to the campaign, the Canadiens traveled to TD Banknorth Arena to play long-standing-rivals, the Boston Bruins. At the time, the Bruins were only one year removed from back to back seasons without a playoff birth, under head coaches Mike Sullivan and Dave Lewis.
With current Habs bench boss Claude Julien however, the Bruins posted a 10-3-3 start to the season on route to an Eastern Conference best 53-19-4 record. However, prior to the game, the Bruins were winless in the past 12 games they played against Montreal, with an 0-10-2 record, as the team’s endured contrasting levels of success over the last few seasons. Habs Captain Saku Koivu and newly acquired winger Alex Tanguay were both off to solid starts, while the Bruins were one of the leagues biggest surprises with a solid penalty kill and plenty of depth.
Despite this long streak of the success, the Bruins got off to a quick start early, which the Habs were never able to recover from. Goals from Shawn Thornton, Stephane Yelle and Marco Sturm made it 3-0 Bruins after the first period, with Sturm adding another early in the second to bring the Bruins lead to four. Koivu managed a goal off a feed from Tanguay to cut the lead back to three, before Milan Lucic and Yelle added two more in the third.
For a Bruins team that posted their best record since the days of Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito, it was their checking lines that stepped up, rather than star players like Patrice Bergeron or Zdeno Charo. Yelle recorded two of his seven goals that year, Thornton’s goal was one of six all year, and speedster Chuck Kobasew added 2 of his 21 assists that season. Looking back at this game, it points to the consistency both the Bruins and the Canadiens have mostly maintained in the year’s since, with the Bruins going on to win a Stanley Cup title in 2010-2011, and the Habs making a conference finals appearance in 2009-10.
In that year’s playoffs, the two teams would meet again in the first round, with Boston dispatching Montreal in four games, before falling to the Carolina Hurricanes in 7 games in the second round. This season, both the Canadiens and Bruins found themselves in this year’s expanded 24 team playoff format but fell in rounds one and two, respectively. As the years have gone on, the Canadiens and Bruins have maintained their rivalry in the same vein as the glory days of Orr and Serge Savard, to Maurice Richard and Sugar Jim Henry.
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One thing’s for sure though, this 12 game winless drought was a part of it most Bruins fans would like to forget, as it marks another point, in Habs history.