Colby Cave (1-1–2 totals), Charlie McAvoy (0-2–2) and David Pastrnak (0-2–2) led the Boston Bruins and their offensive charge as Jaroslav Halak stopped all 22 shots he faced for the shutout in Boston’s, 4-0, victory against the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre on Monday.
Joakim Nordstrom, David Krejci and Brad Marchand (PP) also had goals for the Bruins, while Halak (10-5-2 record, 2.27 goals against average, .929 save percentage in 19 games played) picked up the 22-save shutout win in the building he used to call home from 2006-10.
Halak picked up his third shutout of the season and went 56-34-7 (2.62 GAA, .919 SV%, 5 SO) in his career with the Canadiens.
Carey Price (13-9-4, 2.94 GAA, .901 SV% in 27 GP) will have to wait another day for his 300th career victory in a Habs sweater, as the Montreal netminder made 31 saves on 35 shots against for an .886 SV% in the loss.
The B’s improved to 5-0-0 in their last five road games against the Canadiens, dating back to Dec. 12, 2016 (Montreal is 0-3-2 in that span) and set a new franchise record in doing so for their longest regular season win streak versus Montreal (previous, 4-0-0 from Jan. 11-Dec. 20, 1941).
Boston improved to 18-12-4 (40 points) on the season and surpassed the Canadiens for 4th in the Atlantic Division and the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, while Montreal fell to 17-12-5 (39 points) and 5th place in the Atlantic.
The Bruins take on the Anaheim Ducks this Thursday at TD Garden, while Montreal ventures out to Denver, Colorado for a Wednesday night matchup with the Colorado Avalanche.
Bruce Cassidy made no changes to the Bruins lineup on Monday– save for the goaltender, starting Halak over Tuukka Rask (since Rask played on Sunday)– rolling with the same lines and defensive pairs as the last couple of games with Gemel Smith and Jeremy Lauzon as the only healthy scratches.
Smith and Lauzon remained out of the lineup alongside Zdeno Chara (knee, left MCL), Patrice Bergeron (rib/sternoclavicular), Urho Vaakanainen (concussion), Jake DeBrusk (concussion) and Kevan Miller (larynx) on Sunday with Bergeron nearing an expected full return to practice on Wednesday.
No. 37 in black-and-gold may return to the lineup in time for Saturday or Sunday’s action against Nashville or in Carolina, respectively.
Nordstom (5) scored the game’s first goal at 2:21 of the first period after the B’s third line worked the puck down low, around the boards and forced a quality backcheck to yield a Canadiens turnover in the attacking zone for David Backes to connect with Nordstrom.
Backes (5) and Cave (3) had the assists on the goal and Boston led, 1-0.
About half-a-minute later, Marchand caught Phillip Danault with a high-stick and was sent to the penalty box while the Habs went on the power play for the first time of the night.
Montreal’s power play entering the game on Sunday was 0/22 in the last seven games and did not convert on the skater advantage opportunity while Marchand was in the box.
The Bruins made the kill.
Past the midpoint of the opening frame, Noel Acciari sent the puck over the glass and received an automatic delay of game penalty at 13:32 of the first period.
The Canadiens did not score on the ensuing power play and followed up with a minor infraction of their own at 16:56, when Danault tripped up Pastrnak.
Boston was unsuccessful on their first power play of the evening and went into the first intermission with the, 1-0, lead on the scoreboard and the advantage in shots on goal, 13-5.
Montreal led in blocked shots (7-3), giveaways (14-1) and hits (14-7) after 20 minutes of play, while the Bruins led in takeaways (5-1) and face-off win percentage (60-40). The Canadiens were 0/2 on the power play, while the B’s were 0/1 in the first period.
Early in the second period, Montreal was guilty of too many men on the ice, so Canadiens head coach, Claude Julien, did the only logical thing to do– send your youngest (and perhaps fastest skater) to the box to serve the penalty and hope for a timely breakaway by the end of the penalty kill.
Things did not go as planned.
At 4:29 of the second period, when Jesperi Kotkaniemi emerged from the sin bin, the Canadiens couldn’t connect.
Instead, both teams continued a string of penalties through the middle frame of the game, with Pastrnak cutting a rut to the penalty box at 11:57 for sending the puck over the glass (Boston’s second automatic delay of game infraction of the night) and a pair of matching minors at 17:48 that sent Sean Kuraly and Kotkaniemi to the box.
Kuraly was handed a holding minor, while Kotkaniemi received a minor infraction for interference and the Bruins and Canadiens would play 4-on-4 for two minutes until just about the end of the second period.
In the final minute of the middle frame, Pastrnak worked the puck back to McAvoy as the Bruins defender worked the puck deep into the attacking zone.
As McAvoy was cruising into the zone, he sent a pass back to Cave in the slot whereby Cave (1) pocketed his first career National Hockey League goal in just his 16th career NHL game.
Cave’s goal was assisted by McAvoy (7) and Pastrnak (19) and gave the B’s a, 2-0, lead over the Habs at 19:34 of the second period.
As both teams entered their respective dressing rooms for the second intermission, Boston had doubled their lead on the scoreboard, 2-0, and their shots on goal from 13 in the first period to 26 shots after 40 minutes of play.
The Bruins led in shots on goal (26-12), takeaways (7-3) and face-off win% (53-47) after two periods, while Montreal led in blocked shots (14-7), giveaways (18-6) and hits (23-21).
The Habs were 0/3 on the power play and the B’s were 0/2 prior to the start of the third period.
A mere 46 seconds into the third period, Krejci (6) capitalized on a botched attempt at everything from Montreal to put the Bruins ahead, 3-0.
That’s right, everything was botched on the play leading up to Krejci’s goal.
First the Canadiens were slow-footed out of the gate to start the third period, then they were caught in a line change, which led to a Habs blue liner flying in, colliding and tumbling with Tomas Tatar in the low slow as Pastrnak and Marchand worked the puck to each other in the offensive zone.
Meanwhile, with Price in desperation and the puck finding its way to the Price’s right side, McAvoy found Krejci from the side of the goal to bury the puck in the twine.
McAvoy (8) had his second assist of the night on Krejci’s goal and the Bruins had a three-goal lead.
Montreal defender, Mike Reilly, roughed Pastrnak moments later and was assessed a minor penalty at 3:55 of the third period.
Late in the power play for Boston, the Canadiens had another circus clown act in front of their own goal as one of their defenders bumped Pastrnak while the young Bruins forward deked and sent a quick pass to Marchand.
With Pastrnak and one of Montreal’s own colliding with Price, Marchand (11) pocketed the puck in the de facto empty net for a, 4-0, lead and Boston’s fourth power play goal in the month of December.
Pastrnak (20) and Torey Krug (16) notched the assists on Marchand’s goal at 5:06.
At the final horn, the Bruins had beaten Montreal, 4-0, on the scoreboard and, 35-22, in shots on goal.
The Canadiens finished the night leading in blocked shots (18-17), giveaways (24-11) and hits (46-32), while the B’s led in face-off win% (56-44).
Montreal went 0/3 on the power play, while Boston went 1/3 on the skater advantage.
As a result, the Habs are now 0/25 on the power play in their last eight games and 5/58 in their last 19.
Boston improved to 11-2-2 when scoring first this season and heads back home for a quick, two-game, homestand starting Thursday night against the red-hot Anaheim Ducks and ending with a Saturday matinee against the Nashville Predators.
The B’s head to PNC Arena on Sunday for a matchup with the Carolina Hurricanes on Whalers Night in Raleigh. The Hurricanes will be wearing their Hartford Whalers throwback jerseys in both teams’ final game before the league’s mandatory three-day Christmas break.