January 19 – Day 101 – It’s the last Boston-Montréal game of the regular season!

The St. Louis Blues used a three-goal third period to secure the 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in yesterday’s Game of the Day.

It took exactly 12 minutes before Alexander Steen scored the Blues‘ first goal, assisted by First Star of the Game Paul Stastny (his 16th  helper of the season), but they were not able to keep the lead into the intermission, as Christ Kunitz scored with 117 seconds remaining off assists from Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby (the 23rd assist of the season for both).

The Pens took their only lead of the game at the 15:56 mark of the second with a tally from Evgeni Malkin, off assists from Carl Hagelin and Letang (his 24th helper of the season), but the Blues leveled the score 1:18 later with Vladimir Tarasenko’s 25th goal of the season off assists from Joel Edmundson and Robby Fabbri.  The two-all score held into the second intermission.

The Blues‘ game-winning goal occurred only 2:10 after resuming play, courtesy of Second Star Troy Brouwer after assists from Stastny and Colton Parayko (his 13th helper of the season).  Stastny continued his excellent night with the first insurance goal, assisted by Brouwer and Jay Bouwmeester (his 11th helper of the season).  The final goal of the night was an empty-netter with only 12 seconds remaining, courtesy of Kevin Shattenkirk after assists from Steen (his 27th helper of the season) and Stastny.

Third Star Brian Elliott earns the win after saving 36 of 38 (94.7%) to improve his record to 9-5-4, while Jeff Zatkoff’s record falls to 3-5-1 after saving only 20 of 24 (83.3%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 43-19-9, favoring the home squad by 33 points.

It’s an eight-game schedule on this Tuesday, with four games dropping the opening puck at 7 p.m. eastern (Calgary at New Jersey, Vancouver at the New York Rangers, Toronto at Philadelphia [TVAS] and Washington at Columbus).  7:30 p.m. eastern brings with it the beginning of two more games (Boston at Montréal [RDS] and Edmonton at Tampa Bay), followed half an hour later by Chicago at Nashville (NBCSN/SN1).  This evening’s nightcap occurs at 10:30 p.m. eastern between Dallas and Los Angeles.

Three of tonight’s games are between divisional rivals (Washington at Columbus, Boston at Montréal and Chicago at Nashville), and two are between teams currently qualifying for the playoffs (Boston at Montréal and Dallas at Los Angeles).  The Chicago at Nashville game is also a rematch of one of last season’s Western Conference Quarterfinals.

Although I’m intrigued by the DallasLos Angeles game, the BostonMontréal game is too important in the standings for us to ignore.  To Montréal we go!

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Tonight’s game will be Boston‘s 10th appearance in the Game of the Day series, where they own a 3-5-1 record.  Their most recent showing in such games was on January 11, when they lost 2-1 in Madison Square Garden.  Montréal has been featured eight times before tonight, and own a 6-1-0 record in such games, with their most recent being on New Year’s Day against these Bruins in Foxboro, Mass., where they won 5-1.

The 23-16-5 Boston Bruins currently occupy fourth place in the Atlantic Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference, good enough to qualify them for the first wild card position.  To get themselves to that position, they utilize one of the best offenses in the league, backed by an above-average defense.

Led by Patrice Bergeron’s 153 shots, the Bruins have fired the puck 1388 times, of which a solid 9.4% have found the back of the net for 131 goals (led by Bergeron’s 17 tallies), fourth-most in the league.  A specific facet of Boston‘s offense that has proven highly successful has been the power play, where they’ve scored on a whopping 27.73% of attempts for 33 goals.

Defensively, the Bruins have allowed only 1272 shots (aided by Kevan Miller’s team-leading 71 blocks) to reach 15-13-4 Tuukka Rask and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 91.5% for 115 goals against, 12th-best in the league.  While the penalty kill has been successful (killing 84% for only 24 power play goals against), their biggest strength has been scoring shorties, with six to their credit (led by Brad Marchand’s three).

Boston is currently riding a two-game win streak, with their most showing being a 3-2 victory against the Maple Leafs on Saturday.  A win tonight has the potential to move them past Tampa Bay into the third division spot for the Atlantic.

The 23-19-4 Montréal Canadiens currently sit in fifth place in the Atlantic Division and eighth in the Eastern Conference.  They play a game very similar to the Bruins (I know, neither fan base likes being compared to the other), as they have a solid offense backed by an above-average defense.

Led by Max Pacioretty’s 181 attempts, the Habs have fired the puck 1457 times, of which 8.6% have found the back of the net for 126 tallies (led by Pacioretty’s 19 goals), seventh-most in the league.  Although the offense as a whole has been very successful, the power play has not been as good, as they’ve only found the back of the net on 18.18% of attempts for 28 goals (led by Pacioretty’s seven).

Thanks in part to Andrei Markov’s team-leading 75 blocks, only 1274 shots have made their way to 12-11-4 Mike Condon and co., of which they’ve saved 91.1% for 117 goals against, 15th-best in the league.  The penalty kill has been slightly above average as well, as they’ve killed 84.56% of attempts for 23 goals against.

The Habs are currently riding a four-game losing streak, with their most recent being a 5-2 loss in Chicago on Sunday.  Should Montréal win tonight, they will swap spots with the Bruins for the first wild card spot.

This is the final regular season meeting between these bitter rivals, with the Habs already winning the series 3-1-0.  Their last meeting was at the Winter Classic, where Montréal won 5-1.

Some players to watch in tonight’s game includes Boston‘s Rask (four shutouts [tied for third-most in the league]) and Montréal‘s P.K. Subban (29 assists [tied for sixth-most in the league]).

This one is a tough one to pick.  Although I think the Bruins are the better overall team, it is hard to argue against the result of the last meeting, especially since the game is in Montréal this time.  The line reads Montréal at -111, so I suppose I’ll pick the Habs to pull out the victory.

One thought on “January 19 – Day 101 – It’s the last Boston-Montréal game of the regular season!”

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