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NHL Nick's Net

B’s and Habs reignite rivalry for first time since pandemic

It had been 641 days since the Boston Bruins last met the Montréal Canadiens in the regular season on Feb. 12, 2020. Less than a month after the Bruins beat the Habs, 4-1, that night at TD Garden, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that COVID-19 was a global pandemic.

The rest of the 2019-20 regular season was canceled after before the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs were held in a bubble about five months later. The entire 2020-21 season was shortened to 56 games and temporarily realigned to create an all-Canadian division to comply with COVID-19 public health accommodations across Canada.

The Bruins were eliminated in the 2021 Second Round by the New York Islanders and watched as Montréal went all the way to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final– only to lose in five games to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Sunday night in Boston, the B’s met the Canadiens for the first time during the ongoing pandemic and came from behind to beat their longest, most storied rival, 5-2, on home ice.

17,850 fans in attendance packed TD Garden with proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test and masks required for entry.

The “Olé Olé Olé” chant was sung sarcastically in the third period as the Bruins pulled ahead and a Massachusetts native had a pair of goals in the victory.

A few things look different than in 2020.

Carey Price is on a personal leave of absence, while Tuukka Rask is currently unsigned and just started skating last week in an attempt to return from major hip surgery in the offseason.

Both goaltenders in Sunday night’s matchup made their Boston vs. Montréal debuts.

Jeremy Swayman (5-2-0, 2.16 goals-against average, .914 save percentage in seven games played) came out on top with the win for the B’s and made 27 saves on 29 shots faced in the effort.

Canadiens goaltender, Sam Montembeault (0-3-1, 3.78 goals-against average, .890 save percentage in five games played), turned aside 36 out of 40 shots against in the loss.

Boston improved to 8-5-0 (16 points) overall and remained in command of 5th place in the Atlantic Division, while Montréal dropped to 4-11-2 (10 points) on the season and stuck in 7th place in the Atlantic.

The Bruins were once again without the services of Trent Frederic (upper body) on Sunday, while head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made a couple of minor changes to his lineup from Saturday afternoon’s, 5-2, victory in New Jersey to Sunday night’s matchup with Montréal.

Karson Kuhlman was placed on the right side of Erik Haula with Anton Blidh at left wing, while Oskar Steen entered the lineup on the “fourth” line with Tomáš Nosek at center and Jake DeBrusk at left wing.

Steen replaced Curtis Lazar, who joined Mike Reilly and Craig Smith on Boston’s short list of healthy scratches against the Canadiens.

Josh Anderson kicked the night off with a cross checking infraction against Brad Marchand at 3:20 of the first period, but the Bruins weren’t able to convert on the ensuing power play.

Moments later, after controlling possession in the attacking zone, Boston was caught with a defender pinching in as Connor Clifton raced to get back to his spot as Montréal started a rush the other way leading to a 2-on-1.

Instead of passing the puck, however, Joel Armia (1) ripped a shot over Swayman’s glove on the short side to give the Canadiens the night’s first lead, 1-0, at 8:09 of the first period.

Artturi Lehkonen (5) had the only assist on Armia’s first goal of the season as the Habs struck first.

The two teams had a little string of penalties as the first intermission drew near.

Late in the opening frame, Jake Evans tripped Marchand at 15:35, but Boston couldn’t capitalize on the ensuing skater advantage– nor could they do much on the power play at 18:23, when Brendan Gallagher went to the box for slashing Blidh, though that was more so due to the fact that the advantage was cut short when Marchand tripped Lehkonen at 18:59.

For the next 1:24, the two teams skated at 4-on-4, prior to yielding an abbreviated power play to Montréal that extended into the middle frame.

After one period, the Canadiens led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and in shots on goal, 12-11.

The B’s held the advantage in blocked shots (4-3), while the Habs led in takeaways (2-1) and hits (12-10).

Both teams had one giveaway each and split faceoff win percentage, 50-50, heading into the first intermission.

Montréal was 0/1 and Boston was 0/3 on the power play through 20 minutes.

Jakub Zboril snaked his way through the neutral zone while working a pass to lead Taylor Hall into the attacking zone on his 30th birthday almost midway through the second period.

Hall sent a shot on goal that rebounded off Montembeault and almost landed in the right spot for Nick Foligno to get his stick on the loose puck, but not before Charlie McAvoy (2) pinched in from the point, crashed the slot and sent the rubber biscuit past the Canadiens netminder on the low blocker side– tying the game, 1-1, in the process at 8:27 of the second period.

Hall (5) and Zboril (1) tallied the assists on McAvoy’s first goal of the night.

Late in the period, however, Zboril missed an open ice hit fresh from the bench off of a line change, leading to an overabundance of Montréal skaters getting into their attacking zone before Boston could catch up.

A shot from the Canadiens pinballed off of Swayman, might have hit a Bruin and slipped through to the back of the twine– giving Montréal a, 2-1, lead and Michael Pezzetta (1) his first career National Hockey League goal in the process.

Adam Brooks (1) and Anderson (4) had the assists on Pezzetta’s goal at 16:25 of the second period.

Through 40 minutes of action, the Canadiens led, 2-1, on the scoreboard, despite Boston controlling shots on goal, 31-22, including a, 20-10, advantage in the second period alone.

The Bruins held the advantage in blocked shots (8-6) and giveaways (6-5), while Montréal led in takeaways (3-2), as well as faceoff win% (55-45).

Both teams had 23 hits each, while the Habs were 0/1 and the B’s were 0/3 on the power play heading into the final frame.

Jeff Petry was assessed a holding infraction at 1:25 of the third period and presented the Bruins with a power play as a result.

It didn’t take long for Boston to be successful on their fourth skater advantage of the night as Marchand setup McAvoy (3) for the wrist shot from the high slot over Montembeault’s glove through traffic– tying the game, 2-2, in the process.

Marchand (11) had the only assist on McAvoy’s power-play goal as the B’s tied things up, 2-2, on the scoreboard and McAvoy earned his first career two-goal game in the process at 2:14 of the third period.

A few minutes later– with a surge in momentum– Charlie Coyle sent a pass back to David Pastrnak for a shot that rebounded off of Montembeault prior to Petry getting a stick on it and attempting to clear it from the slot.

Petry, instead, inadvertently sent the puck off of Coyle’s (4) head and into Montréal’s own net, giving the Bruins their first lead of the night, 3-2, on Coyle’s unintentional individual effort at 5:58.

Right place, right time (depending on how you look at it).

Between McAvoy’s second goal and Coyle’s first of the night, Boston rallied for two goals in a span of 3:34.

It wasn’t that much longer before the Bruins scored again as Coyle (5) won a race off the boards into the attacking zone on a chip-in indirect pass from DeBrusk and crashed the net before roofing the rubber biscuit on the short side.

DeBrusk (1) and Steen (2) tallied the assists on Coyle’s second goal of the game and the Bruins pulled ahead, 4-2, at 9:05 of the third period.

Coyle’s pair of goals were scored almost three minutes apart from one another in a span of 3:07 before things settled down until late in the final frame.

With his team trailing by two goals, Canadiens head coach, Dominique Ducharme, pulled Montembeault for an extra attacker with about 2:30 remaining on the clock.

Things didn’t go as planned for Montréal, however.

An errant attempt to get the puck out of his own zone from Brandon Carlo hit a linesman before Pastrnak scooped it up, brought it into the attacking zone and sent it over to Hall (4) for the empty net goal at 18:02.

Pastrmak (9) and Carlo (1) were credited with the assists as Hall’s birthday goal sealed the deal on a, 5-2, win for Boston.

Canadiens defender, Chris Wideman, was given a misconduct after the goal at 18:02 and got an early ticket out of the rink to the dressing room as a result.

At the final horn, the Bruins had won, 5-2, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 41-29, including a, 10-7, advantage in the third period alone.

The B’s wrapped up Sunday night leading in blocked shots (10-7) and hits (31-29), while Montréal left TD Garden with the advantage in giveaways (7-6) and faceoff win% (55-45).

The Habs finished Sunday’s effort 0/1 on the power play, while Boston went 1/4 on the skater advantage.

Boston also improved to 2-2-0 (2-0-0 at home) when allowing the game’s first goal, 2-2-0 (2-0-0 at home) when trailing after the first period and 1-3-0 (1-0-0 at home) when trailing after two periods this season.

The Canadiens dropped to 2-4-2 (1-3-1 on the road) when scoring the game’s first goal, 3-3-2 (1-2-1 on the road) when leading after the first period and 3-1-0 (1-1-0 on the road) when leading after the second period in 2021-22.

The Bruins have five days off before hitting the road to face the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday (Nov. 20th).

The B’s return home next Sunday to host the Calgary Flames.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Habs hold off elimination in overtime victory at home

For the first time since 1993, the Montréal Canadiens won a game in the Stanley Cup Final as Josh Anderson scored the game-winning goal almost four minutes into overtime to lift the Habs over the Tampa Bay Lightning, 3-2, on Monday night at Bell Centre.

As a result of the loss, the Lightning hold onto a 3-1 series lead with their next chance to clinch back-to-back Cups on Wednesday night in front of their home fans at Amalie Arena in Game 5.

Carey Price (13-8, 2.34 goals-against average, .922 save percentage in 21 games played) stopped 32 out of 34 shots faced in the win for Montréal.

Tampa goaltender, Andrei Vasilevskiy (15-7, 1.99 goals-against average, .935 save percentage in 22 games played), made 18 saves on 21 shots against in the loss.

Canadiens head coach, Dominique Ducharme, replaced Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Jon Merrill and Erik Gustafsson in his lineup with Jake Evans, Alex Romanov and Brett Kulak.

Ducharme put Romanov on the left side of Kulak on the third defensive pairing and switched up his top-nine forwards– promoting Tyler Toffoli to the left side of the first line with Phillip Danault at center and Brendan Gallagher on right wing, while Anderson was promoted to the second line with Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield remaining in place.

Meanwhile, Evans took over at center on the third line with Paul Byron on his left wing and Artturi Lehkonen on his right side.

Alex Killorn entered Monday night as a “game-time decision” according to Tampa’s head coach, Jon Cooper, and took part in warmup for the Lightning– but did not take part in any line rushes, so Cooper made no changes to his lineup from Game 3.

Attendance at Bell Centre was once again limited by the Québec provincial government and local health administrations and officially read as 3,500 fans for Game 4 as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues around the globe.

Past the midpoint of the opening frame, Tampa led Montréal in shots on goal, 10-1.

Unfortunately for the Lightning’s potent offense and shutdown defense, the Canadiens’ second shot on net was a goal.

The Bolts botched an effort to move the puck out of their own zone, while the Habs sustained pressure leading to a give-and-go for Suzuki and Caufield, whereby Suzuki then rid himself of the puck on a pass to Anderson (4) through the low slot from the trapezoid for a one-timer goal and the, 1-0, lead.

Suzuki (9) and Caufield (7) tallied the assists on Anderson’s goal as the Canadiens struck first at 15:39 of the first period and their first at any point in the series– ending a span of 255:39 without trailing for the Lightning since Game 7 against the New York Islanders in the 2021 Stanley Cup Semifinals round.

Less than a minute later, Evans and Brayden Point were off to the penalty box together as Evans was assessed an interference infraction and Point was given two-minutes for roughing at 16:33 of the first period.

The two clubs almost got through a pair of minutes at 4-on-4 without any issue before Joel Edmundson caught Blake Coleman with a slash at 17:59, yielding a 4-on-3 advantage for Tampa for 34 seconds before the remainder of an abbreviated 5-on-4 advantage for the Lightning would commence.

While on the ensuing power play, Point rang the post as the Bolts tried to even things up, but failed to convert on the advantage.

At the horn, both benches converged at center ice as the players were about to go back to the dressing rooms for the first intermission, but first exchanged some pleasantries.

Pat Maroon and Edmundson both received unsportsmanlike minors at 20:00 of the first period, which resulted in 4-on-4 action to start the middle frame.

After one period, Montréal led, 1-0, on the scoreboard, despite Tampa holding a, 12-5, advantage in shots on goal.

The Habs led in blocked shots (5-3) and giveaways (7-2), while the Bolts held the advantage in takeaways (3-1), hits (15-13) and faceoff win percentage (79-21).

Tampa had the only skater advantage in the opening frame and went 0/1, while Montréal had yet to see time on the power play.

The Canadiens got their first chance on the skater advantage at 5:50 of the second period as Point caught Lehkonen with a high stick and cut a rut to the sin bin as a result.

The Habs failed to convert on the power play.

Moments later, Corey Perry cut a rut to the box for hooking Tyler Johnson at 9:43, but once again the Lightning couldn’t muster anything on the advantage.

Nor could the Bolts get anything going when Joel Armia tripped up Mathieu Joseph at 14:28 and presented Tampa with another power play as a result– despite Victor Hedman ringing the iron on a heavy shot.

Late in the period, Jeff Petry failed to clear the zone on a pass that was broken up by Ryan McDonagh.

The puck deflected off of McDonagh’s stick and sailed through the air to Coleman who worked it to McDonagh in the slot on a short pass as the Tampa defender pinched and dropped the rubber biscuit back to Barclay Goodrow (2) for the one-timer past Price while the Canadiens goaltender was out of position.

McDonagh (7) and Coleman (8) notched the assists as the Lightning tied it, 1-1, at 17:20 of the second period.

Entering the second intermission, the Bolts and Habs were tied, 1-1, on the scoreboard despite Tampa leading in shots on net, 20-14, through 40 minutes of action.

Montréal, however, held the advantage in shots in the second period alone, 9-8, and led in giveaways (14-7), while the Lightning led in hits (30-28) after two periods.

Both teams had six blocked shots each, three takeaways each and split faceoff win%, 50-50, entering the final frame of regulation.

Tampa was 0/3 and Montréal was 0/1 on the power play heading into the third frame.

Almost midway into the final frame of regulation, Petry, Ben Chiarot, Anderson, Goodrow, Coleman and Yanni Gourde all received matching roughing minors for a scrum after the whistle at 7:42 of the third period.

The six skaters wouldn’t come out of the box for over six minutes as there weren’t many stoppages before their penalties expired.

About a minute after the six skaters went into the box, Romanov (1) wired a shot through traffic into the twine over Vasilevskiy’s blocker and just under the bar as Lehkonen skated by the Tampa netminder acting as a screen.

Evans (1) had the only assist on Romanov’s goal and the Habs took a, 2-1, lead at 8:48 of the third period, while Romanov became the youngest (21 years, 180 days) Canadiens defender in franchise history to score a goal in the Stanley Cup Final.

About five minutes later, Joseph led Maroon on a rush the other way from their own blue line into the attacking zone whereby Joseph setup Maroon (2) for a shot pass redirection goal to tie the game, 2-2, at 13:47.

Joseph (2) and Johnson (3) had the assists on Maroon’s goal.

Moments later, Nikita Kucherov hit the post– the third time of the night that Tampa registered a shot attempt off the iron– as the Bolts almost took the lead for the first time of the night.

Late in the period, off an attacking zone faceoff, Shea Weber caught Ondrej Palat with a stick to the face and drew some blood, yielding a four-minute double minor penalty at 18:59 of the third period.

Tampa’s advantage would spill over into the overtime period, but like the rest of the night, the Lightning couldn’t score on the skater advantage.

After regulation the Bolts and Habs were knotted up, 2-2, on the scoreboard despite Tampa holding the advantage in shots on goal, 30-19, including a, 10-5, advantage in the third period alone.

Montréal held the lead in blocked shots (17-15), takeaways (7-4), giveaways (19-13) and faceoff win% (55-46), while Tampa led in hits (36-34).

As there were no penalties called in overtime, the Lightning finished the night 0/5 on the power play, while the Canadiens went 0/1.

Tampa nearly allowed a shorthanded goal when Hedman blew a tire along the blue line and failed to keep the puck in the attacking zone while Danault and Suzuki were off to the races and generated a one-timer on Vasilevskiy that the Lightning goaltender turned aside.

As the Habs surged in momentum and the Bolts got off to a slow start in the extra frame, Cooper used his timeout after a stoppage with 17:33 remaining in overtime.

Shortly thereafter, Anderson beat Jan Rutta and led a rush the other way with Caufield before the two kept hacking away at the loose puck on a rebound until Anderson (5) slipped it past Vasilevskiy on the short side.

Caufield (8) had the only assist on the goal at 3:57.

Montréal took Game 5, 3-2, in overtime and cut Tampa’s series lead to 3-1 as a result.

Despite losing, the Lightning finished the night with more shots on goal– leading the Canadiens, 34-21, in that department, including a, 4-2, advantage in overtime alone.

The Habs finished Monday night’s effort leading in blocked shots (19-16), giveaways (20-13) and faceoff win% (52-48), while Tampa exited the building leading in hits (36-35).

The Bolts are 1-3 in their first attempts to close out a playoff series this postseason– only beating the Carolina Hurricanes on their first try in Game 5 of their Second Round matchup.

Tampa also had two losses in overtime in games when they had a chance to finish the series, including Game 6 on Long Island against the New York Islanders.

The Lightning are now 0-4 in overtime this postseason, while Montréal improved to 6-1 past regulation in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs– winning their first game in a Stanley Cup Final when facing elimination for the 12th time in franchise history and first since Game 7 against Chicago in the 1971 Stanley Cup Final.

Road teams are now 50-41-3 in a Stanley Cup Final game that required overtime after Monday night’s win for the home team Canadiens.

The most recent team to trail in the Final 3-0 to force a Game 5 was in 2014, when the New York Rangers forced the Los Angeles Kings to a Game 5 at Staples Center that the Kings ended up winning and taking home their second Stanley Cup championship in franchise history.

On Wednesday, the Lightning attempt to repeat Los Angeles’ success in a Game 5 on home ice as they’ll host Montréal at Amalie Arena.

Puck drop is scheduled for a little after 8 p.m. ET and viewers in the United States can tune to NBC, while those in Canada can choose from CBC, SN or TVAS.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Lightning one win away from repeating as Stanley Cup champions

The Tampa Bay Lightning are one win away from sweeping the Montréal Canadiens– and winning their third Stanley Cup championship in franchise history in the process– after defeating the Canadiens, 6-3, at Bell Centre on Friday night in Game 3.

Friday night marked the first Stanley Cup Final game in Montréal since the Habs won it all in Game 5 of their series against the Los Angeles Kings on June 9, 1993.

Andrei Vasilevskiy (15-6, 1.94 goals-against average, .938 save percentage in 21 games played) made 32 saves on 35 shots against in the win for the Lightning.

Meanwhile, Canadiens goaltender, Carey Price (12-8, 2.36 goals-against average, .921 save percentage in 20 games played) stopped 24 out of 29 shots faced in the loss.

Jon Cooper made no changes to his lineup for the Lightning while Alex Killorn remained out of commission due to an undisclosed injury that he sustained while blocking a shot in Game 1.

Canadiens head coach, Dominique Ducharme, was back behind the bench for the Habs after testing positive for COVID-19 in the last playoff round against the Vegas Golden Knights and self-isolating.

Ducharme made no adjustments to his lineup, while Luke Richardson returned to his usual role as an assistant coach for Montréal after serving as their temporary leader for the last six games.

The Québec provincial government made 3,500 seats available for Bell Centre’s seating capacity for Game 3, though it looked like more fans found a way in somehow on the television broadcast.

Jan Rutta (2) kicked things off with a shot from the point that floated over Price’s shoulder on the blocker side into the twine– giving Tampa a, 1-0, lead at 1:52 of the first period in the process and becoming the first player in NHL history to score a goal (regular season or playoffs) in the month of July.

Ondrej Palat (7) and Victor Hedman (16) tallied the assists on Rutta’s goal.

About a minute later, Eric Staal sent the puck over the glass and out of play for an automatic delay of game infraction at 2:54, yielding the night’s first power play to the Lightning in the process.

It didn’t take the Bolts that long on the skater advantage to convert with a power-play goal from Hedman (2) as the Lightning worked the puck around the attacking zone and back to the defender wearing No. 77.

He sent a slap shot off of Price, under the glove and into the back of the net to give Tampa a, 2-0, lead at 3:27 of the first period, while Nikita Kucherov (24) and Anthony Cirelli (7) picked up the assists.

Hedman became the first player in league history to record at least one goal in all 12 calendar months, while Montréal used their timeout to gather their composure.

Moments later, Blake Coleman went down awkwardly after missing Joel Edmundson on a hit attempt in open ice, but got up under his own power after a whistle and continued to play unscathed for the rest of the night.

Shortly thereafter, Cole Caufield sniped a shot off of the left post behind Vasilevskiy– beating the Lightning goaltender on the lower right pad– but the puck came back out of the crease and away from the attacking zone.

Midway through the first period, Phillip Danault (1) held the puck as he entered the zone and sent a shot off of Vasilevskiy that bounced off the left post and right post before finding its way into the net.

Shea Weber (5) had the only assist on Danault’s goal at 11:16 as the Canadiens cut Tampa’s lead in half, 2-1.

Late in the period, Mikhail Sergachev caught Artturi Lehkonen away from the puck just far enough from being considered a net front presence to yield an interference infraction at 17:29.

The Habs were not able to muster anything on the ensuing power play– their first skater advantage of the night.

Through 20 minutes of action, the Lightning led, 2-1, on the scoreboard, despite the Canadiens holding a, 17-12, advantage in shots on goal.

Montréal also led in blocked shots (5-4), while Tampa led in giveaways (5-4), hits (21-19) and faceoff win percentage (52-48) entering the first intermission.

Neither team had recorded a takeaway through one period of play, while the Bolts were 1/1 and the Habs were 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

Just like how they got off to a quick start in the first period, the Lightning got off to a fast start in the second period as the Bolts caught the Habs on a poor line change with the long change playing into the end result.

The Canadiens failed to get the puck deep while trying to change things up, which led to a 2-on-0 heading back the other way for Tampa as Palat setup Kucherov (8) for the backhand redirection goal to make it, 3-1, Lightning at 1:40 of the second period.

Palat (8) and Erik Cernak (9) tallied the assists on Kucherov’s goal.

Almost two minutes later, Mathieu Joseph generated a rebound off Price that bounced off of Joseph’s skate right to his teammate in Tyler Johnson as Johnson crashed the net.

Johnson (3) got a backhand shot on the puck and fluttered the rubber biscuit past Price while the Habs goaltender reacted in desperation.

Joseph (1) and David Savard (4) notched the assists on Johnson’s goal as the Lightning extended their lead to, 4-1, at 3:33 of the second period.

Moments later, Cernak sent a shot off the post in the same end that Caufield rang the iron in the opening frame.

Late in the period, Nick Suzuki (7) went end-to-end with speed and sent a shot under Vasilevskiy’s right leg pad from just inside the faceoff dot on a soft goal to cut Tampa’s lead to two-goals.

Jeff Petry (6) and Caufield (6) had the helpers on Suzuki’s goal as the Canadiens trailed the Lightning, 4-2, on the scoreboard at 18:04 of the second period.

Tampa entered the second intermission leading, 4-2, despite trailing in shots on goal to the Habs, 25-21. The Bolts held the advantage in shots on net in the second period alone, however, as they outshot Montréal, 9-8, in the middle frame.

The Canadiens led in giveaways (15-9), while Tampa dominated in everything else– leading in blocked shots (11-8), takeaways (1-0), hits (36-33) and faceoff win% (54-46) after 40 minutes of action on Friday.

As there were no penalties called in the second period, the Habs remained 0/1 on the power play, while the Bolts were 1/1 on the skater advantage heading into the final frame of regulation.

There were no penalties called in the final frame and the action picked up late in the period as Johnson (4) scored on another rebound while crashing the net– shoveling the puck into the twine on Price’s blocker side to make it, 5-2, for the Lightning at 15:19 of the third period.

Johnson’s second goal of the game was unassisted.

With 4:12 remaining in the game, Ducharme pulled Price for an extra attacker and the Habs went to work on cutting into Tampa’s lead.

Corey Perry (4) patiently carried the puck from the corner in the attacking zone to between the goal line and inside the faceoff dot, where he wired a shot over Vasilevskiy’s shoulder on the short side under the bar to bring the Canadiens to within two goals.

Brendan Gallagher (4) and Ben Chiarot (1) had the assists on Perry’s 45th career postseason goal as the Lightning led, 5-3, at 15:58 of the third period.

Once more, Price vacated the net for an extra attacker, but this time Tampa took full advantage of the open frame in the crease as Barclay Goodrow forced Caufield to turn the puck over off of Petry’s skate whereby Coleman (3) scooped up the loose puck and buried it for an empty net goal.

Goodrow (4) had the only assist on Coleman’s goal as the Bolts pulled ahead, 6-3, and sealed the deal on their Game 3 victory at 16:48 of the third period.

At the final horn, the Lightning had taken a 3-0 series lead with a, 6-3, victory despite trailing in shots on goal, 35-30, including a, 10-9, advantage in the third period alone for the Canadiens.

Montréal wrapped up Friday night’s action leading in giveaways (26-15), while Tampa held the advantage in blocked shots (13-11), hits (46-38) and faceoff win% (51-49).

Each team had one opportunity on the power play on Friday with the Lightning going 1/1 and the Canadiens finishing 0/1 on the skater advantage.

The Bolts became the fourth team in the Expansion Era (since 1967-68) to win the first three games in a Stanley Cup Final without trailing, joining the 2012 Los Angeles Kings and the 1977, as well as 1969 Canadiens in doing so.

Los Angeles went on to eliminate the New Jersey Devils in six games in 2012, to capture their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, while Montréal swept the Boston Bruins in the 1977 Stanley Cup Final and the St. Louis Blues in 1969.

Tampa can become the first team to sweep their opponent in the Final since the Detroit Red Wings swept the Washington Capitals in 1998.

The Lightning can win their third Stanley Cup ring in Game 4 on Monday night at Bell Centre in Montréal as the Canadiens look to avoid being eliminated on home ice.

Puck drop is expected to be a little after 8 p.m. ET and viewers in the United States can tune to NBC for the action, while those in Canada can choose from CBC, SN or TVAS for coverage.

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NHL Nick's Net Playoff Recaps

Lightning rout Canadiens in Game 1 victory at home

Nikita Kucherov scored a pair of goals as the Tampa Bay Lightning cruised to a, 5-1, victory over the Montréal Canadiens Monday night at Amalie Arena in Game 1 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.

Andrei Vasilevskiy (13-6, 1.94 goals-against average, .936 save percentage in 19 games) made 18 saves on 19 shots against in the win as the Lightning jumped out to a 1-0 series lead in the Final.

Habs netminder, Carey Price (12-6, 2.18 goals-against average, .928 save percentage in 18 games played), stopped 22 out of 27 shots faced in the loss.

Jake Evans returned to the lineup for the Canadiens for the first time since sustaining a concussion on a charge from Mark Scheifele in Game 1 of Montréal’s Second Round series against the Winnipeg Jets.

Evans missed the last nine games for the Habs.

Meanwhile, Joel Armia was cleared from COVID protocol on Monday, flew in a private jet to Tampa and participated in warmup, but was not ready to go as a game-time decision.

Canadiens head coach, Dominique Ducharme, will return to his regular role behind the bench in Montréal for Game 3, since testing positive for COVID-19 on June 18th and self-isolating.

In accordance with Canadian regulations, Ducharme will did not travel to the United States for Games 1 and 2 in Tampa, so he won’t have to quarantine for another 14 days when the series shifts to Montréal for Games 3 and 4.

Luke Richardson remains in command for the Habs until Bell Centre hosts its first Stanley Cup Final game.

16,300 fans filled Amalie Arena on Monday night as Tampa continues to loosen indoor COVID-19 restrictions in attendance in accordance with the NHL’s protocols. It was the largest crowd for a Lightning game since last season.

Bolts head coach, Jon Cooper, rolled out Ondrej Palat, Brayden Point and Kucherov on his first line, while completing his top-six forward group with Alex Killorn, Anthony Cirelli and Steven Stamkos on the second line.

Barclay Goodrow, Yanni Gourde and Blake Coleman comprised Tampa’s third line, while Pat Maroon, Tyler Johnson and Ross Colton carried the fourth line.

On defense, Cooper paired Victor Hedman with Jan Rutta as he’s done all postseason, while Ryan McDonagh and Erik Cernak served as his second pairing and Mikhail Sergachev was partnered with David Savard on the third defensive pair.

Richardson countered with Artturi Lehkonen, Phillip Danault and Brendan Gallagher on his first line, while Tyler Toffoli, Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield rounded out Montréal’s top-six forward group.

Paul Byron, Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Josh Anderson skated together on the third line, while Evans, Eric Staal and Corey Perry slotted in on the fourth line.

On defense, Ben Chiarot suited up alongside Shea Weber, Joel Edmundson was paired with Jeff Petry and Erik Gustafsson skated with Jon Merrill on the third defensive pair for the Habs.

Cernak (1) opened the series’ scoring with a shot pass redirection goal over Price’s glove to give the Lightning a, 1-0, lead at 6:19 of the first period.

Palat (6) and Point (7) tallied the assists on Cernak’s first career Stanley Cup Playoff goal in his 46th career postseason game.

Late in the period, Goodrow cross checked Gallagher and presented the Canadiens with the first power play of the series at 15:21 of the first period.

Montréal didn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage, however, as the Lightning remained in command on the scoreboard.

Tampa got a power play at 19:14 after Chiarot roughed up Kucherov, but the Bolts couldn’t muster anything on the power play despite the split ends of the advantage over the remaining time in the first period and a little more than the opening minute of the middle frame.

After one period, the Lightning led, 1-0, on the scoreboard and in shots on goal, 7-5.

Tampa also held the advantage in takeaways (3-2), while Montréal led in giveaways (3-1), hits (26-19) and faceoff win percentage (56-44).

Both teams managed to have three blocked shots each and were 0/1 on the power play heading into the first intermission.

Chiarot sent a shot attempt at the goal frame that deflected off of something and caught the iron to the right of Vasilevskiy’s leg pad, but the Bolts remained in command uninterrupted.

Moments later, Gallagher turned the puck over in Montréal’s attacking zone, leading to a rush for the Lightning heading back the other way, whereby Goodrow sent a shot that was blocked before Coleman pounced on the loose puck and threw a shot towards the net.

Coleman’s shot went through Merrill and caught a piece of Gourde (6) as he stood in front of the crease acting as a screen before the rubber biscuit had eyes and made its way through Price’s five-hole to give Tampa a, 2-0, lead.

Coleman (7) and Goodrow (2) notched the assists on the goal as the Bolts took a two-goal lead at 5:47 of the second period.

Late in the middle frame, Chiarot played a little pinball after Tampa turned it over and the Habs worked the puck around the attacking zone.

Chiarot (1) unloaded on a slap shot that deflected off of Cirelli, then McDonagh and slipped behind Vasilevskiy to cut Tampa’s lead in half, 2-1, on the scoreboard at 17:40.

Kotkaniemi (3) and Weber (4) were credited with the helpers on Chiarot’s first goal of the 2021 postseason for the Canadiens.

Through 40 minutes of play, the Lightning led, 2-1, on the scoreboard and, 19-14, in shots on goal, including a, 12-9, advantage in shots on net in the second period alone.

Tampa also held the advantage in blocked shots (8-5), takeaways (7-2), giveaways (7-3) and faceoff win% (51-49), while Montréal led in hits (44-41).

As there were no penalties called in the second period, both teams remained 0/1 on the power play heading into the second intermission.

Kucherov (6) threw the puck into the slot early in the final frame and Chiarot smacked it out of the air with his glove, but somehow the puck managed to float over Price’s glove and under the bar to give the Lightning a, 3-1, lead at 2:00 of the third period.

Sergachev (3) had the only assist on Kucherov’s first goal of the night.

Minutes later, Staal and Cernak exchanged pleasantries after a stoppage and received roughing minors at 6:30, resulting in a pair of minutes of 4-on-4 action.

Midway through the third period, Kucherov (7) received a pass from Point on an attacking zone faceoff win and sent a laser of a shot past Price high on the glove side to extend Tampa’s lead to three-goals.

Point (8) had the only assist on Kucherov’s second goal of the game as the Bolts made it, 4-1, at 11:25 of the third period.

About a couple minutes later, Coleman took off Gallagher’s helmet after Price froze the puck in Montréal’s own zone and slammed Gallagher into the ice face first, resulting in a bit of a bloody gash on Gallagher’s forehead and yielding a power play to the Canadiens as a result.

Coleman cut a rut to the box for roughing at 13:42, but the Habs weren’t able to score on the ensuing skater advantage.

Shortly after killing off Coleman’s minor infraction, the Bolts went on the power play as Kotkaniemi retaliated with a high stick on Cernak at 15:51.

Edmundson joined Kotkaniemi in the box late in the resulting power play for roughing Gourde at 17:20, yielding a 5-on-3 advantage to the Lightning as a result, whereby Cooper sent out five forwards to make the Habs pay on the scoreboard.

About 90 seconds later, Tampa struck on the power play when Stamkos (8) blasted a one-timer from his usual spot in the faceoff dot to beat Price on the short side.

Kucherov (23) and Point (9) tallied the assists on Stamkos’ power-play goal and the Lightning extended their lead, 5-1, at 18:50 of the third period.

At the final horn, Tampa had taken a 1-0 series lead with a, 5-1, victory over Montréal in Game 1 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.

The Bolts finished Monday night’s effort leading in shots on goal, 27-19, including an, 8-5, advantage in the third period alone.

The Lightning also wrapped up Game 1 leading in blocked shots (15-5) and giveaways (9-3), while the Canadiens finished the night leading in hits (58-57).

Faceoff win% was split evenly, 50-50, while the Habs went 0/2 and the Bolts went 1/3 on the power play.

Tampa has a chance to take a 2-0 series lead and Montréal’s got a chance to even the series 1-1 on Wednesday night in Game 2 from Amalie Arena.

Puck drop is set for a little after 8 p.m. ET and viewers in the United States can tune to NBCSN for coverage, while those in Canada can choose from CBC, SN or TVAS.

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Canadiens advance to first Stanley Cup Final in 28 years

For the first time since the last time they won the Stanley Cup in 1993, the Montréal Canadiens are heading back to the Stanley Cup Final after defeating the Vegas Golden Knights, 3-2, in overtime on home ice in Game 6 at Bell Centre on Thursday night.

With the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl secured, the Canadiens have now won every trophy in National Hockey League history and join the Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks and New York Islanders as the only teams to have won both the Campbell Bowl and Prince of Wales Trophy in franchise history.

Artturi Lehkonen scored the biggest goal of his short five-year NHL career thus far a little more than 90 seconds into overtime as the Canadiens won the series 4-2 to advance to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.

Habs netminder, Carey Price (12-5, 2.02 goals-against average, .934 save percentage in 17 games played), stopped 37 out of 39 shots faced in the win.

Robin Lehner (1-2, 3.63 goals-against average, .887 save percentage in three games played) made 29 saves on 32 shots against in the loss.

Golden Knights head coach, Peter DeBoer, fell to 12-7 when facing elimination all time in his career behind the bench of an NHL team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Meanwhile, Montréal improved to 11-2 when scoring first this postseason and 11-0 when scoring at least two goals in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

They’re also the first Canadian NHL team in the Stanley Cup Final since the Vancouver Canucks lost to the Boston Bruins in seven games (4-3) in 2011.

Jake Evans remained out of the lineup for Montréal, while DeBoer swapped Nick Holden on his defense with Nic Hague and gave Lehner the start over Marc-Andre Fleury on Thursday.

Luke Richardson led the Canadiens behind the bench for the fourth time in the series while Dominique Ducharme remains in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19 prior to Game 3.

Vegas General Manager, Kelly McCrimmon, remains out of commission in isolation as well, having tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of Game 4.

Nicolas Roy caught Jon Merrill with a high stick and presented the Habs with the first power play of the night at 1:56 of the first period.

Montréal was unsuccessful on the ensuing skater advantage, however.

It wouldn’t take the Canadiens all night before they found a way to convert on the power play as Alex Pietrangelo presented the Habs with their second advantage of the night as a result of a roughing infraction at 12:36.

This time, Montréal used up about 90 seconds of power play time before Alec Martinez went to clear the puck out of the zone but failed as a result of his stick shattering and an errant puck landing on Shea Weber’s blade instead.

Weber (1) unloaded on an unassisted slap shot past Lehner’s blocker side while Jesperi Kotkaniemi screened the Vegas goaltender to give the Canadiens a, 1-0, lead on a power-play goal at 14:06 of the first period.

Less than a minute later, though, the Golden Knights responded and tied things up, 1-1, thanks to a shot pass from Shea Theodore that Reilly Smith (3) redirected behind Price on the low blocker side.

Theodore (9) and William Karlsson (11) tallied the assists on Smith’s goal at 14:54.

Entering the first intermission, the score was tied, 1-1, despite the Golden Knights leading in shots on goal, 10-8.

Vegas also held the advantage in blocked shots (6-5), giveaways (11-5) and faceoff win percentage (52-48), while Montréal led in takeaways (1-0) and hits (10-7).

The Canadiens were 1/2 on the power play, while the Golden Knights had yet to see time on the skater advantage after one period on Thursday.

Tyler Toffoli hooked Smith early in the middle frame and cut a rut to the box at 3:15 of the second period– presenting Vegas with their first power play of the night as a result.

The Golden Knights couldn’t convert on the ensuing advantage, however, and would go back on the penalty kill shortly after Montréal killed off Toffoli’s minor.

Vegas had too many skaters on the ice and sent Keegan Kolesar to serve the bench infraction at 5:42 of the second period.

The Canadiens failed to score on the resulting power play.

Moments later, Jeff Petry and Joel Edmundson worked to get the puck out of their own zone as Edmundson fed Cole Caufield with a lead pass through the neutral zone that Caufield deflected over Brayden McNabb’s stick while breaking into the attacking zone.

Caufield (4) drove to the net and elevated a shot high on Lehner’s glove side to put the Habs up, 2-1, midway through the second period.

Edmundson (6) and Petry (5) notched the assists on Caufield’s goal at 9:36.

Eric Staal hooked Kolesar at 11:04 of the second period and presented Vegas with their second and final power play of the evening, but the Golden Knights couldn’t muster anything on the skater advantage as the Canadiens went on to kill off their 30th consecutive infraction this postseason– extending their ongoing franchise record as a result.

Through 40 minutes of play, the Habs led, 2-1, on the scoreboard despite trailing Vegas, 22-21, in shots on goal.

Montréal actually held the advantage in shots on net in the second period alone, 13-12, and led in blocked shots (11-7), takeaways (8-2) and hits (20-19) heading into the dressing room for the second intermission.

Vegas led in giveaways (17-13) and faceoff win% (56-44) after two periods.

As there were no penalties called in the final frame of regulation, as well as in the extra frame, the Habs finished the night 1/3 on the power play, while the Golden Knights went 0/2.

Pietrangelo wired a shot on net that rebounded in and out of Price’s glove before Martinez (4) did what he does best in the postseason– score clutch goals– this time off of Price and through the five-hole to tie the game, 2-2, at 1:08 of the third period.

Pietrangelo (8) and Karlsson (12) were credited with the helpers on Martinez’ goal as both teams continued to swap chances throughout the third period.

Vegas couldn’t get anything going with their surge in momentum as Smith continued to be a prominent figure on the ice among their top-six forwards as Phillip Danault and his Canadiens teammates continued to shutdown Golden Knights captain, Mark Stone, in every way imaginable.

Stone expressed remorse to reporters after the game for failing to record a single point in the series and had 5-3–8 totals in 19 games this postseason for Vegas– down from 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 20 games last postseason for the Golden Knights.

The horn sounded to indicate the end of the third period and the necessity for overtime as the two teams remained tied, 2-2, after 60 minutes.

Vegas led in shots on goal, 37-31, and held a, 15-10, advantage in the third period alone.

The Golden Knights continued to lead in giveaways (25-19), hits (31-28) and faceoff win% (52-48), while the Canadiens led in blocked shots (13-12) and takeaways (11-5).

For the third time in the series, Vegas and Montréal were heading to overtime.

Though the Golden Knights got two quick shots on the board to start the extra frame, it didn’t take long before the Canadiens emerged victorious as they won a battle in their own end before sprinting down the ice, whereby Danault released a pass to Lehkonen (3) for the one-timer goal on Lehner’s short side that eliminated Vegas and sent Montréal to the Stanley Cup Final.

Danault (3) and Brendan Gallagher (3)– two of the Habs’ longest tenured players not named Price– had the assists on Lehkonen’s game-winner at 1:39 of the overtime period as the Canadiens took home a, 3-2, victory.

Vegas exited Bell Centre leading in the final shots on goal total, 39-32, including a, 2-1, advantage in overtime alone, as well as the lead in giveaways (25-21), hits (31-29) and faceoff win% (53-47).

Meanwhile, Montréal delighted their home crowd with the win, pictures with the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl and the final advantage in blocked shots (14-13) on the night.

Speaking of the trophy that’s normally been presented to the winner of the Western Conference Final (or its Campbell Conference Finals equivalent from 1982-93), with the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl now belonging to the Canadiens for the 2021 postseason, Montréal has won every trophy in league history.

As a result of the Game 6 win in overtime, the Habs improved to 5-1 past regulation this postseason, while the Golden Knights finished 2-4.

The Canadiens are 1-2 in all time Stanley Cup Playoff series’ against Tampa and 3-1 in all time postseason series’ against New York.

Montréal will face the winner of the Islanders vs. Lightning series on Monday night (June 28th) on the road in Game 1 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.

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Habs upset Leafs in Game 7: Three reasons why

For just the second time in the 104-year-old history of the Toronto Maple Leafs franchise, the club squared off with the Montréal Canadiens in a Game 7.

Back in 1964, the Leafs came out on top, 3-1, at the Montreal Forum. Monday night at Scotiabank Arena, history repeated itself. Almost.

Though the final score was the same, 3-1, it was Montréal that found a way to steal the victory on the road this time around– becoming just the second team in National Hockey League history to win a Game 7 in Toronto, joining the 1993 Los Angeles Kings in doing so.

Brendan Gallagher opened the scoring in the second period for the Habs before Corey Perry’s power-play goal went on to become eventual game-winner later in that same middle frame.

Tyler Toffoli completed the run of three unanswered goals for the Canadiens late in the third period with an empty net goal before William Nylander ended Carey Price’s bid for a shutout about a minute later.

But enough about the game itself, since it’s been a couple of days now– let’s get into some reasons why Montréal won, why Toronto didn’t and where the Leafs can go from here, if it’s even possible to still win with this core.

Why Montréal won

The Price is right: Carey Price managed to amass a 2.24 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage in the seven games against the Maple Leafs, which is a pleasant surprise given Price’s bleaker regular season numbers in an injury plagued 2020-21 season (2.64 goals-against average, .901 save percentage in 25 games).

Price’s career 2.50 goals-against average in 707 games from the 2007-08 season through 2020-21 is better than Patrick Roy’s 2.78 goals-against average in Roy’s 551-game tenure with the Habs, fun fact.

Consistency: Tyler Toffoli led the Canadiens in scoring in the regular season with 28-16–44 totals in 52 games, while Nick Suzuki was third in team scoring with 41 points (15 goals, 26 assists) in 56 games.

Corey Perry chipped in 9-12–21 totals in 49 games and even Jesperi Kotkaniemi, despite a slow start, managed to amass 20 points (five goals, 15 assists) in 56 games.

In the First Round, Toffoli led the Habs with 2-3–5 totals in seven games, Perry, Suzuki, Joel Armia and Eric Staal managed to score four points and Kotkaniemi had three goals in six games after serving as a healthy scratch in Game 1.

The Habs played their game– the long game– throughout the series, built on wearing down their opponent on the forecheck in the attacking zone and really just keeping things as simple as they come.

It doesn’t always work, but in this case it did! Good for them.

Seconds: At one point, Montréal had a minus-seven goal differential in the second period alone in the series. That was entering Game 5, when the Maple Leafs held a 3-1 series lead.

They brought it up to a minus-five by the end of the series, which, albeit still leaves more to be desired from their effort in the middle frame as they approach the Second Round against the Winnipeg Jets, but goes to show that in low-scoring affairs, goal scoring is paramount in a 60-minute effort.

Kind of obvious, right?

The Canadiens scored more than three goals in a game just once in the series when they won, 4-3, in overtime in Game 5.

Why Toronto lost and what now

Lineups: Losing John Tavares in Game 1 limited Maple Leafs head coach, Sheldon Keefe, in his options when it came time to try something new to get anything going, but it still should’ve been explored.

How many times did Toronto go back to the well with Auston Matthews and Mitchell Marner on the same line?

Between the two players, the Leafs had 1-8–9 totals combined.

Assists are nice because it means that at least somebody scored for your team, but if given the chance, Toronto probably should’ve bumped Marner down to the second line while giving William Nylander more of a chance to shine on the first line– at least for a period, if not just to spark Matthews’ play at 5-on-5.

If anything, Tavares’ injury revealed a desperate need for the Maple Leafs in the offseason– a third line center.

Marner musings: Alright, before everyone starts arguing over whether or not to trade the best playmaker in Toronto not named “Joe Thornton”, let’s assess the feasibility of moving a guy with a $10.903 million cap hit through the 2024-25 season in a flat cap due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Marner was on pace for about 98 points in an 82-game season, had 2020-21 not been condensed into a 56-game schedule.

That said, he still managed to equal his scoring output from last season in fewer games– 67 points in 55 games this season, 67 points in 59 games last season while battling injury.

For the third time in his career, Marner had at least 20 goals in a season and he has 358 points (103 goals, 255 assists) in 355 career games.

If Matthews (the goal scorer) and Marner (the playmaker) are to Toronto what Patrick Kane (a goal scorer) and Jonathan Toews (a playmaker) are to the Chicago Blackhawks, then Marner is doing pretty fine.

Toews had 144-180–324 totals in his first five seasons (361 games).

But– and it’s a pretty big one– Kane and Toews won the Stanley Cup twice before signing matching extensions worth $10.500 million per season through 2022-23, that, at the time of their signing on July 9, 2014, didn’t go into effect until the 2015-16 season, so… after the duo ended up winning their third Cup ring with Chicago in 2015.

Sure, Chicago hasn’t won a playoff series since then, but they did end their longest drought before (over)paying their core– and at the very least, they made sure to commit to no more than two players at that rate.

Maple Leafs General Manager, Kyle Dubas, has spent about half of his salary cap on Matthews, Marner, Tavares and Nylander alone.

Trading Marner would probably mean parting with a high value draft pick or prospect if there’s no salary retained in the transaction and moving Matthews or Tavares wouldn’t make sense because Toronto needs a first and second line center to remain central to their core.

If Dubas is confident in Marner being able to find that elusive second-gear in the postseason– along with Matthews– then the team’s in the odd position of moving someone like Nylander, who’s shown an ability to produce in the second-half of the season, as well as the playoffs, instead.

The intangibles: Yes, having the veteran leadership of guys like Joe Thornton, Jason Spezza and more is good in keeping the day-to-day vibe nice and relaxed as a long, grueling, regular season goes on, but did anyone do their research on past postseason performances or… …lack thereof from guys like Spezza, Thornton, Nick Folingo and others?

Foligno was hampered by injury, which gets somewhat of a pass, Spezza finished tied for third in team scoring in the playoffs with three goals and two assists (five points) in seven games from the fourth line, while Thornton managed to score a goal in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Alex Galchenyuk is not a long term solution, but a quick bandage for larger problems.

Wayne Simmonds’ offensive production was almost nowhere to be found and if you’re using Simmonds solely for the energy that he can provide, then adding Foligno at the cost spent in April does not merit enough of a return on investment for one, if not both, of essentially the same player.

Especially when you’re left trying to rotate Simmonds, Foligno, Thornton, Spezza and guys like, Riley Nash (another deadline acquisition), on the fourth line on any given night, while trying to balance some youth and speed in ongoing projects in Pierre Engvall and Ilya Mikheyev.

And that’s not to mention wherever Alexander Kerfoot fits in on all of this when Tavares isn’t injured.

Sometimes it’s not about buying in bulk, but buying the right component at a discount or on the clearance rack to solidify, well, mostly that third line.

It’s fine to have three, four or five guys that are expendable and being rotated on the fourth line throughout the season, then narrowed down for situations in the postseason.

It’s not necessarily recommended to have seven, eight or nine players vying for the same roles in the bottom-six– with tryouts lingering into the playoffs and results mixed as though the team had two fourth lines instead.

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Habs force Game 6 to be played at home in front of limited capacity crowd

The Montréal Canadiens struck fast and early, led by three goals, nearly blew it and struck fast and early again in their, 4-3, overtime victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday in Game 5 of their 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs First Round matchup.

Nick Suzuki capitalized on a 2-on-0 opportunity– scoring the game-winning goal about a minute into overtime– after the Leafs turned the puck over at the other end of the rink, sending an empty Scotiabank Arena home even quieter than they weren’t allowed to enter as the Canadiens forced a Game 6 in front of a limited capacity crowd at Bell Centre on Saturday.

The Habs will have about 2,000 fans at their next game– marking a first for Canadian teams this season with the ongoing pandemic.

Despite this, Toronto carries a 3-2 series lead into Montréal with the chance to eliminate the Canadiens on the road.

Carey Price (2-3, 2.66 goals-against average, .919 save percentage in five games played) stopped 32 out of 35 shots faced in the win for the Habs.

Leafs netminder, Jack Campbell (3-2, 1.61 goals-against average, .944 save percentage in five games played), made 26 saves on 30 shots against in the loss.

Nick Foligno remained out of the lineup for Toronto, while Maple Leafs head coach, Sheldon Keefe, replaced Travis Dermott with Rasmus Sandin on defense.

Toronto captain, John Tavares– sidelined by a concussion and a lower body injury– was in the building and watching his teammates from the press box.

He also resumed skating earlier in the day, though is still considered “week-to-week” at this point.

The Maple Leafs have not won a playoff series since 2004, and last beat Montréal in a playoff series in six games in the 1967 Stanley Cup Final (4-2).

Joel Armia (1) gave Montréal a, 1-0, lead at 5:13 of the first period as Corey Perry’s forecheck in the attacking zone produced a turnover, leading to Armia scooping up the loose puck and elevating a shot over Campbell’s glove side for the game’s first goal.

The Canadiens surged as a result of Wayne Simmonds ringing the crossbar about a minute prior in their own end and Armia’s first goal of the game subsequently.

A few minutes later, Armia (2) had his second goal of the game while Campbell was lying on his back to extend the Habs’ lead to two-goals.

Montréal worked the puck “D-to-D” along the point before sending a shot towards the slot where Eric Staal generated a rebound and Perry got a quick touch on an indirect short pass to Armia for the goal.

Armia slid the rubber biscuit under Campbell’s leg as the Habs made it a, 2-0, game at 8:18 of the opening frame.

Perry (2) and Staal (2) tallied the assists on the goal.

After one period of action in Toronto, Montréal led, 2-0, on the scoreboard and, 14-8, in shots on goal.

The Maple Leafs held the advantage in takeaways (5-3), while the Canadiens led in hits (20-15) and faceoff win percentage (62-39). Both teams had four blocked shots each and six giveaways aside.

Neither team had seen any action on the power play entering the first intermission.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi (2) made it, 3-0, for the Habs on an individual effort early in the middle frame after flipping the puck into the corner and taking it away from Sandin before stuffing the rubber biscuit around Campbell at 4:52 of the second period.

Less than two minutes later, Zach Hyman (1) inadvertently tipped a shot past Price to cut Montréal’s lead from three goals to two.

Mitchell Marner got Price to overcommit and flop out of position like a fish out of water outside the crease before banking the puck off of Tyler Toffoli before it wobbled and got a piece of Hyman for the goal as a mad scramble in front of the crease to bail out the Canadiens netminder swarmed.

Marner (4) and Auston Matthews (3) had the assists on Hyman’s goal as the Maple Leafs trailed, 3-1, at 6:32 of the second period.

Hyman later tripped Suzuki and presented the Habs with their first power play of the night on the first penalty of the game at 13:39.

Montréal did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage, however.

Through 40 minutes in Toronto, the Canadiens led, 3-1, on the scoreboard and, 23-19, in shots on goal, despite the Leafs holding an, 11-9, advantage in shots on net in the second period alone.

The Maple Leafs also led in blocked shots (8-7), takeaways (9-4), giveaways (11-10) and faceoff win% (51-49), while the Habs held the advantage in hits (33-29).

As Montréal had the only power play through two periods and failed to convert on the advantage, the Habs were 0/1, while the Leafs were still awaiting their first skater advantage.

Brendan Gallagher cut a rut to the penalty box for interference at 4:41 of the third period and presented the Maple Leafs with their first power play of the night as a result.

Though Toronto did not score on the skater advantage, they did take advantage of the vulnerable minute after special teams action as Jake Muzzin (1) sent a shot off the post and in from the point as net front traffic diminished Price’s vision of the shooter.

Simmonds (1) and William Nylander (2) were credited with the assists on Muzzin’s first goal of the game as the Leafs pulled to within one and trailed Montréal, 3-2, at 6:52 of the third period.

Midway through the final frame of regulation, the Maple Leafs tied it, 3-3, on another goal from Muzzin (2)– this time on a redirection through Price’s five-hole thanks to an initial shot pass from Alex Galchenyuk at 11:54.

Galchenyuk (3) and Nylander (3) had the assists on Muzzin’s second goal of the night as Toronto answered Montréal’s three-goal lead with three unanswered goals of their own.

After regulation, the score was tied, 3-3, and the Maple Leafs had a, 35-29, advantage in shots on goal, including a, 16-6, advantage in the third period alone.

Toronto also held the advantage in blocked shots (12-9), takeaways (11-8) and giveaways (14-12), while Montréal led in hits (44-38) and faceoff win% (51-49).

As there were no penalties called in overtime, both teams went 0/1 on the power play in Game 5.

Less than a minute into the extra frame Galchenyuk turned the puck over in the attacking zone, leading to a fast breakout the other way for the Canadiens, whereby Suzuki and Cole Caufield ended up on a 2-on-0 entering Montréal’s attacking zone.

Suzuki (2) passed the puck to Caufield for a quick give-and-go before one-timing the puck past Campbell for the game-winning goal 59 seconds into overtime.

Caufield (1) recorded the only assist– his first career Stanley Cup Playoff point– on Suzuki’s goal as the Habs defeated the Maple Leafs, 4-3, in overtime in Game 5.

The Canadiens finished the night with the advantage in shots on goal in overtime alone, 1-0, as well as the lead in hits (44-38) and faceoff win% (52-48), while Toronto wrapped up Thursday night leading in shots on goal (35-30), blocked shots (12-10) and giveaways (15-12).

The Habs trail in the series 3-2 heading back home for Game 6 at Bell Centre in Montréal. Puck drop is scheduled for Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. ET and viewers in the United States can catch the action on NBCSN, while those in Canada can choose from CBC, SN or TVAS.

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Pastrnak’s hat trick propels Bruins over Habs, 4-1

For the second time this season, David Pastrnak recorded a hat trick against the Montreal Canadiens as the Boston Bruins defeated the Habs, 4-1, at TD Garden on Wednesday night.

Pastrnak regained the lead as top goal scorer in the league with 41 goals so far this season and became the first player since Gordie Howe to score multiple hat tricks against Montreal in the same season (Howe did so back in 1951-52).

Bruins goaltender, Tuukka Rask (21-5-6 record, 2.11 goals against average, .930 save percentage in 33 games played), made 28 saves on 29 shots against for a .966 SV% in the win.

Canadiens netminder, Carey Price (24-20-4, 2.73 GAA, .913 SV% in 48 games played) stopped 34 out of 37 shots faced for a .919 SV% in the loss.

Boston improved to 35-11-12 (82 points) on the season and remained atop the entire league, while Montreal fell to 27-25-7 (61 points) and stayed put in 5th place in the Atlantic Division.

The B’s also improved to 20-2-9 at home this season and have won eight out of their last ten games.

The Bruins were without the services of Kevan Miller (knee), Connor Clifton (upper body) and Jeremy Lauzon (suspension) on Wednesday.

Lauzon wrapped up his two game suspension from last Saturday’s, 4-2, win against the Arizona Coyotes for an illegal hit to the head of Coyotes forward, Derek Stepan.

Meanwhile, Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, made a few minor changes among his forwards against the Canadiens.

Joakim Nordstrom was back in the lineup after missing the last four games due to allergy related complications and resumed his usual role on the fourth line left wing– reuniting the Nordstrom, Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner trio.

Cassidy moved Danton Heinen to the third line right wing with Anders Bjork at left wing and Charlie Coyle down the middle.

As a result, Par Lindholm joined Anton Blidh as Boston’s only healthy scratches against Montreal as Urho Vaakanainen was reassigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) late Sunday night after being recalled on an emergency basis.

Wednesday night marked the 750th all time regular season matchup between the B’s and Habs. Montreal has won 363 of those matches, while Boston has now won 284 of them. The two clubs tied in 103 times in that span.

Almost midway through the opening frame, Brad Marchand snaked his way into the attacking zone and through Montreal’s defense before curling a pass to Pastrnak (39) for a one-timer into the back of the twine– giving Boston the game’s first lead, 1-0.

Marchand (47) had the only assist on Pastrnak’s goal– his 39th of the season, which established a new career-high in goals for No. 88 in black and gold– at 6:59 of the first period.

The pair of wingers on Boston’s first line each have amassed at least 70 points in the last four seasons– marking the 10th time a Bruins player has recorded 70-plus points in four or more consecutive seasons.

Just past the midpoint of the first period, the Canadiens made an error in judgment and had too many skaters on the ice– yielding the first power play of the night to the Bruins at 10:32, but Boston did not convert on the ensuing legal skater advantage.

Late in the opening frame, Marchand got tangled up with Jeff Petry in front of the Montreal net as the two players exchanged shoves and roughing penalties (with Marchand earning an extra slashing minor in the process).

The Canadiens had their first power play of the night at 18:48 of the first period while Heinen served Marchand’s extra minor in the box.

Montreal’s power play would extend into the second period as the two teams entered the first intermission with the B’s in the lead on the scoreboard, 1-0, and in shots on goal, 11-10.

After one period of play, Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (6-2) and takeaways (2-0), while the Habs led in hits (12-11) and faceoff win percentage (53-47).

Both teams had four giveaways aside and were 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.

The Habs began the second period with 48 seconds remaining on their power play, but their special teams were no match for Boston’s penalty kill fresh off the intermission as the Bruins killed off Marchand’s minor.

Moments later, Pastrnak (40) tallied his second goal of the game after Kuraly fed Pastrnak with pass while on a two-on-one break-in that led to Pastrnak deking and scoring top-shelf while Price dove in desperation.

Kuraly (15) had the only assist on Pastrnak’s goal and the B’s led, 2-0, at 4:16 of the second period.

For the first time since Glen Murray tallied 44 goals in the 2002-03 season, a Bruin recorded 40 or more goals in a season as Pastrnak reached and surpassed the 40-goal plateau.

He also required the fewest games (58) by a Bruins player to score 40 goals in a season since Cam Neely reached 40 goals in 36 games played in 1993-94 (which is also the fastest in franchise history to reach 40 goals).

Less than a minute later, Marco Scandella ripped a shot from the point that went off of Nick Suzuki’s (12) hip and past Rask– cutting Boston’s lead in half, 2-1, and putting the Habs on the scoreboard.

Scandella (8) had the only assist on Suzuki’s unintentional redirection goal at 4:52 of the second period.

Shortly thereafter, Heinen slashed Artturi Lehkonen and was sent to the box at 5:38.

Prior to the ensuing faceoff on the power play for Montreal, Zdeno Chara and Brendan Gallagher exchanged pleasantries with Chara promptly delivering a swift cross check to Gallagher and Gallagher receiving a roughing minor as the two were sent to their respective penalty boxes with Heinen already in Boston’s sin bin at 5:38 of the middle frame.

The Canadiens didn’t convert on the resulting power play.

Late in the second period, the nastiness continued with Jonathan Drouin and Wagner exchanging shoves and receiving roughing infractions at 14:32.

While on the ensuing 4-on-4 action, Joel Armia took a penalty for roughing against Torey Krug at 15:14 and yielded a 4-on-3 advantage for Boston for an abbreviated 1:19 span.

Montreal failed to clear a rebound in the resulting zone time for the Bruins as Patrice Bergeron battled Petry’s net front presence before the loose puck ended up on Pastrnak’s stick.

Pastrnak (41) slid the rubber biscuit through Price’s five-hole into the far side of the goal for his fourth hat trick of the season and first since Jan. 9th against the Winnipeg Jets.

Pastrnak’s hat trick goal was unassisted at 15:45 of the second period as Pastrnak joined Washington Capitals prolific goal scorer, Alex Ovechkin, as the only other active player to score nine hat tricks (including regular season and playoffs) prior to his 24th birthday.

Pastrnak’s third goal of the game was also his eighth goal against Montreal this season and left him second to Phil Esposito in Bruins franchise history for the most hat tricks in a single season– Pastrnak has four thus far, while Esposito notched seven hat tricks in the 1970-71 season for Boston.

Shortly after play resumed, Kuraly bumped into his own defender, Charlie McAvoy, and went down the tunnel, but returned to play unharmed ahead of the third period.

Entering the second intermission, the B’s led the Habs, 3-1, on the scoreboard and, 26-19, in shots on goal through 40 minutes of play.

Boston held the advantage in blocked shots (11-2) and takeaways (4-1), while Montreal led in giveaways (8-6) and faceoff win% (56-44).

Both teams recorded 17 hits aside after two periods of action. The Canadiens were 0/2 on the skater advantage, while the Bruins were 1/2 on the power play heading into the final period.

Early in the final frame, McAvoy sent the puck off the boards and out of play, but received an automatic delay of game penalty despite the on-ice officials convening to determine if the puck had gone clearly out of play or otherwise (it was evident via replay that the puck glanced off the boards, changed direction and traveled out of the playing surface, but alas, delay of game penalties of this nature cannot be subject to video review).

So the Canadiens went on the power play at 4:19 of the third period, but the Habs continued to struggle on the skater advantage.

Gallagher tried to get under the skin of Bruins defender, John Moore, in the dying seconds of Montreal’s power play in effort to yield an extension on the advantage, but Moore was not biting and Gallagher actually caught the B’s defender with a high stick at 6:18, reversing the skater advantage from the Habs to Boston.

Despite being presented with another power play opportunity of the night, the Bruins failed to convert while Gallagher was in the box.

With about 2:34 remaining in the game, Canadiens head coach, Claude Julien, pulled Price for an extra attacker to try to muster a pair of goals for his team in the dying minutes of the game.

Despite using his team’s timeout after a stoppage with 43.7 seconds remaining, Montreal’s last ditch effort was no match for Boston’s strong defense and forward progression.

Pastrnak flipped the puck down the ice whereby Marchand won a battle along the boards and was able to free the puck to Bergeron (24) for the empty net goal that sealed the deal on Boston’s, 4-1, victory.

Marchand (48) had the only assist on Bergeron’s empty netter at 19:40 of the third period and finished the night with a pair of helpers.

At the final horn the Bruins had won and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 38-29, with the final score reading as a, 4-1, win over the Canadiens.

Boston wrapped up Wednesday night ahead of Montreal in blocked shots (13-6), as well, while the Habs finished the game leading in giveaways (10-8), hits (27-25) and faceoff win% (58-42).

The Canadiens went 0/3 on the skater advantage and the B’s went 1/3 on the power play in Wednesday night’s matchup.

Rask extended his franchise record for longest point streak to open a season at home– improving to 13-0-6 at TD Garden this season with the win.

The Bruins also improved to 20-5-3 when leading after the first period, 20-1-6 when leading after two periods and 21-7-8 when scoring the game’s first goal this season.

Boston wraps up their two-game homestand against the Detroit Red Wings next Saturday (Feb. 15th) before going on a four-game road trip with stops against the New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks.

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Backes’ return sparks B’s in, 3-1, win over Habs

David Backes scored the game-winning goal in his first game back from injury since Nov. 2nd as the Boston Bruins rallied in the third period to a, 3-1, comeback win over the Montreal Canadiens Sunday night at TD Garden.

Tuukka Rask (13-2-2 record, 2.04 goals against average, .933 save percentage in 17 games played) made 28 saves on 29 shots against for a .966 SV% in the win for Boston.

Montreal netminder, Carey Price (10-9-3, 3.18 GAA, .898 SV% in 22 GP) stopped 31 out of 34 shots faced for a .912 SV% in the loss.

The B’s improved to 19-3-5 (43 points) on the season and maintained their lead on the Atlantic Division, as well as the entire league– having played one fewer game than the Washington Capitals.

The Habs fell to 11-10-6 (28 points) and remained in command of 5th place in the Atlantic Division while also falling to 0-5-3 in their last eight games.

Prior to Sunday night, Montreal hadn’t lost eight-straight games since the 1939-40 season (in which the Canadiens lost nine-straight games at one point).

Meanwhile, Boston is on an 11-game point streak, including their current seven-game winning streak and improved to 11-0-4 on home ice this season.

Kevan Miller (knee), John Moore (shoulder), Karson Kuhlman (fractured tibia), Zach Senyshyn (lower body), Patrice Bergeron (lower body) and Brett Ritchie (upper body) were all out of commission for the Bruins on Sunday against Montreal.

Moore, however, was assigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) ahead of Providence’s matinee matchup with the Charlotte Checkers at Bojangles’ Coliseum as part of a long-term injured conditioning stint (meaning he’s likely to be back up in Boston and rejoining the B’s lineup in the near future).

Jack Studnicka was also reassigned to Providence after playing in two NHL games with Boston while multiple forwards were injured.

Studnicka recorded one assist in that span.

Backes returned to full practice on Saturday and returned to the lineup Sunday night against the Canadiens after missing the last 13 games since being hurt on Nov. 2nd against the Ottawa Senators.

With Backes available, Bruins head coach, Bruce Cassidy, switched up his lines from Friday afternoon’s, 3-2, overtime victory over the New York Rangers.

Cassidy kept his first line the same with Brad Marchand at left wing, David Krejci at center and David Pastrnak on the right wing.

On the second line, Cassidy moved Charlie Coyle back to his usual spot at center with Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen on his left and right sides, respectively.

Sean Kuraly centered the third line with Anders Bjork at left wing and Chris Wagner at right wing.

Finally, Par Lindholm centered Joakim Nordstrom in his usual role as the fourth line left wing and Backes on the right wing.

Connor Clifton went back in the lineup on the third defensive pairing alongside Matt Grzelcyk, while Steven Kampfer joined Brendan Gaunce in the press box as Boston’s only healthy scratches.

The Bruins wore their new alternate sweater for the second-straight game since debuting them on the ice against the Rangers in the 2019 NHL Thanksgiving Showdown.

Joel Armia (10) stole the puck right in front of the Boston goal and sent a backhand shot off the crossbar and in over Rask’s glove side on fluke soft goal to kick things off at 1:58 of the first period.

Armia’s goal was unassisted and gave Montreal a, 1-0, lead in what was just the 9th instance of the Bruins giving up the game’s first goal on home ice this season– and the 4th consecutive home game in doing so.

Late in the period, Charlie McAvoy caught Charles Hudon with a high stick and was assessed a minor infraction at 14:38.

The Canadiens did not convert on their first power play opportunity of the night.

Entering the first intermission, the Habs led the B’s, 1-0, on the scoreboard and, 11-10, in shots on goal.

Montreal also held the advantage in takeaways (11-1) and faceoff win percentage (59-41), while Boston led in blocked shots (4-1).

Both teams had three giveaways aside and 12 hits each, meanwhile the Canadiens were 0/1 on the power play heading into the second period.

The Bruins had yet to see any time on the skater advantage after the first 20 minutes of action Sunday night.

Boston turned their burners on as the second period was nearing a close, but not before the two teams got into a bit of a scrum at center ice that resulted in the first power play opportunity of the night for the Bruins.

Shea Weber was called for interference against Pastrnak at 17:13 of the second period, but was joined in the penalty box by his teammate, Brendan Gallagher, after Gallagher got into a wrestling match with DeBrusk– who also cut a rut to the sin bin, but for the B’s.

As a result, the Bruins went on a 5-on-4 skater advantage and couldn’t muster a power play goal in the vulnerable minutes before the middle frame came to a close.

The score remained unchanged after 40 minutes of action with the Canadiens leading the Bruins, 1-0, but Boston jumped ahead of Montreal in the shot department– leading, 20-19, in shots on goal after two periods thanks to their, 10-8, advantage in shots on net in the second period alone.

The B’s led in blocked shots (10-6) and hits (25-20) entering the second intermission, while the Habs led in takeaways (12-6), giveaways (4-3) and faceoff win% (52-48).

Both teams were 0/1 on the power play heading into the final frame of regulation.

Early in the final frame, Bjork worked an indirect pass up the boards to Pastrnak that led Pastrnak into the attacking zone.

The league’s leading goal scorer, Pastrnak (25), blasted a rocket from the hashmarks off the far post and in on Price’s blocker side– tying the game, 1-1, in the process at 6:16 of the third period.

Bjork (3) and Brandon Carlo (8) tallied the assists on Pastrnak’s goal as No. 88 in black-and-gold became the 11th player in league history to score 25 or more goals in a season through games played on Dec. 1st, as well as the first player to do so since Mario Lemieux scored 29 goals through Dec. 1st in the 1992-93 season with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

About a couple minutes later, Nick Cousins received a holding infraction for tying up Torey Krug in Montreal’s offensive zone.

Boston went on the power play for the second time of the night at 8:38 of the third and made sure to capitalize on the skater advantage in the dying seconds of the power play opportunity.

Grzelcyk worked the puck from the point to Krejci as the Bruins center brought the puck down low.

Krejci then sent a pass to Backes (1) in the slot where the veteran NHLer was acting as a bumper and one-timed a shot into the twine to give Boston their first lead of the night, 2-1.

The Bruins didn’t score in the first 40 minutes of the game Sunday night, but they fired off two goals in a span of 4:13 in the third period to turn the game on its head.

Krejci (15) and Grzelcyk (6) had the assists on Backes’ goal at 10:29 and the B’s had momentum on their side.

In a similar manner, but from the reverse angle, Heinen broke into the zone with possession and briefly lost the puck before DeBrusk scooped it up and gave it to Coyle.

The Weymouth, Massachusetts native brought the rubber biscuit behind the net, then tossed a pass to DeBrusk (6) that the Bruins winger one-timed over Price’s glove from point blank while being knocked to the ice– giving Boston a two-goal lead, 3-1.

Coyle (10) had the only assist on DeBrusk’s goal at 13:27 and the Bruins completed their three unanswered goal comeback over Montreal in a 7:11 span in the third period.

The goal was DeBrusk’s 6th point in his last five games.

With 2:33 remaining in regulation, Canadiens head coach, Claude Julien, pulled Price for an extra attacker.

After icing the puck and mishandling a breakout, the Habs ended up with too many skaters on the ice at 18:09 and sent Cousins to the box to serve their bench minor.

Though Boston did not score on their third power play of the game, they did walk away with the most important thing– the win– at the final horn.

The Bruins finished off the Canadiens, 3-1, and ended the night with the advantage in shots on goal (34-29), blocked shots (16-12) and hits (32-28).

Montreal, meanwhile, left TD Garden with the advantage in giveaways (7-4) and faceoff win% (59-41) on Sunday.

The Habs finished the night 0/1 on the power play, while the B’s went 1/3 on the skater advantage.

The Bruins are now 7-1-2 when allowing the game’s first goal at home this season and 4-2-2 when trailing after two periods.

Boston continues their current five-game home stand (2-0-0) on Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes before hosting the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday and finishing up their homestand on Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche. The B’s then begin a four-game road trip thereafter.

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Pastrnak scores hat trick as B’s light up Habs, 8-1

Eight is great and eight is the number of goals the Boston Bruins scored en route to their, 8-1, victory over the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre on Tuesday night.

Oh and by the way, David Pastrnak had a hat trick.

Jaroslav Halak (5-1-3 record, 2.40 goals against average, .930 save percentage in nine games played) made 36 saves on 37 shots against for a .973 SV% in the win for the Bruins.

Canadiens starter, Carey Price (10-7-3, 3.09 GAA, .900 SV% in 20 games played) turned aside six out of ten shots faced for a .545 SV% before being replaced by Keith Kinkaid (1-1-2, 4.29 GAA, .877 SV% in five games played) in the loss.

Kinkaid made ten saves on 13 shots against (.769 SV%) for no decision.

Boston improved to 16-3-5 (37 points) and remained atop the Atlantic Division– in command of 1st place of not just the division, but 1st place in the entire league by virtue of holding a game-in-hand over the Washington Capitals.

Montreal, meanwhile, fell to 11-8-5 (27 points) on the season and stuck in 3rd in the Atlantic.

The Bruins extended their current winning streak to four games and are now 7-3-1 on the road this season.

They’re now also 10-0-2 when leading after two periods, 11-1-0 when leading after one period and 12-2-3 when scoring the game’s first goal this season.

Kevan Miller (knee), John Moore (shoulder), Karson Kuhlman (fractured tibia), David Backes (upper body) and Zach Senyshyn (lower body) remained out of the lineup for Boston with Patrice Bergeron (lower body) and Brett Ritchie (upper body) joining the long list of injured Bruins for at least the next two games (Tuesday night in Montreal, Wednesday night in Ottawa).

As a result of Bergeron and Ritchie’s injuries, Boston recalled Brendan Gaunce and Jack Studnicka from the Providence Bruins (AHL) on Monday.

Gaunce, 25, has six goals and five assists (11 points) in 14 games with Providence this season and signed with Boston on July 1, 2019 as a free agent after spending 2015-19 with the Vancouver Canucks organization.

Studnicka, 20, leads Providence in scoring with nine goals and nine assists (18 points), as well as a plus-seven rating in 21 games with the “Baby Bruins” this season. The 6’2″, 175-pound center was drafted by Boston in the second round (53rd overall) of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

He made his NHL debut Tuesday night in Montreal, joining Cameron Hughes as the only other Bruin to make their NHL debuts this season.

Par Lindholm returned to action after missing the last game while resting up after sustaining a cut in last Thursday’s, 3-2, win over the Buffalo Sabres.

With Bergeron and Ritchie out, Bruce Cassidy made some adjustments to his lineup, starting Studnicka as the second line center with Jake DeBrusk on his left wing and Charlie Coyle on his right wing.

David Krejci, in the meantime, was promoted to the first line center role with Brad Marchand and Pastrnak in their usual roles.

Sean Kuraly centered the third line with Anders Bjork and Danton Heinen as his wingers, while Lindholm centered the fourth line with Joakim Nordstrom and Chris Wagner.

Cassidy made one change to his defense, replacing Steven Kampfer with Connor Clifton on the third defensive pairing after keeping Kampfer fresh while in his role as the seventh defender for the B’s.

Gaunce and Kampfer served as healthy scratches for the Bruins on Tuesday.

Early in the opening frame, Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher tripped up Pastrnak while trailing the Boston forward behind his own net and was sent to the penalty box at 6:10 of the first period.

Krejci sent Kuraly deep into the offensive zone on the ensuing power play, whereby Kuraly connected DeBrusk with a bump pass as DeBrusk (5) crashed the slot and sent a shot into the back of the twine to give the Bruins a, 1-0, lead on a power play goal.

Kuraly (4) and Krejci (12) had the assists on DeBrusk’s goal at 8:03.

The Canadiens responded with a goal of their own a little over a few minutes later on a three-on-two rush up the ice that left Shea Weber (8) wide open for a quick one-timer that beat Halak’s blocker side at 12:41.

Gallagher (9) and Tomas Tatar (14) had the assists on Weber’s goal, tying the game, 1-1, midway through the first period.

The score wasn’t tied for long before Nate Thompson “tripped” Clifton at 13:56 and was assessed an infraction for what appeared to be a phantom call.

Boston went on the power play for the second time of the night and quickly converted on the skater advantage with a trademark one-timer blast from Pastrnak (21) at 14:24.

Coyle (8) and Marchand (24) notched the assists on Pastrnak’s first goal of the night as the B’s regained the lead, 2-1.

Eight seconds later, Charlie McAvoy was penalized for interference against Nick Suzuki at 14:32, presenting Montreal with their first power play of the night.

The Habs did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.

With less than a minute remaining in the first period, Marchand (17) snagged a loose puck that floated off of Coyle’s stick while the Bruins forward attempted a wraparound, then elevated a backhand shot over Price while the Canadiens goaltender dove in effort to make a save.

As a result, Coyle (9) had the only assist on Marchand’s goal at 19:23 and the Bruins led, 3-1, entering the first intermission.

The goal marked Marchand’s 600th NHL point– becoming the 11th player in Bruins franchise history to record 600 points in a B’s sweater, joining Terry O’Reilly, Krejci, Ken Hodge, Wayne Cashman, Bergeron, Bobby Orr, Rick Middleton, Phil Esposito, Johnny Bucyk and Ray Bourque (per Ty Anderson of 98.5 The Sports Hub).

Marchand’s also just the 4th Bruins player in the last 45 years to record his 40th point in 24 games or fewer, joining Adam Oates (24 games played in 1992-93), Esposito (22 GP in 1974-75) and Orr (21 GP in 1974-75).

After one period in Montreal, Boston led, 3-1, on the scoreboard, despite trailing, 13-8, in shots on net.

The B’s led in blocked shots (6-5) and giveaways (11-8), while the Habs led in hits (14-8) and faceoff win percentage (60-40).

Both teams had three takeaways aside.

The Canadiens were 0/1 on the power play and the Bruins were 2/2 entering the second period.

Pastrnak (22) entered the attacking zone off the draw, deked past a Montreal defender and sniped a shot over Price’s blocker on the short side to give Boston a three-goal lead eight seconds into the second period.

Marchand (25) and Zdeno Chara (7) had the assists on Pastrnak’s second goal of the game and the Bruins led, 4-1.

Boston added another goal to their immense lead when Bjork (4) capitalized on a breakaway, sending a shot into the twine past Price’s glove side to make it, 5-1, for Boston at 1:10 of the second period.

Kuraly (5) had the only assist on the goal.

The Bruins had a pair of goals in a span of 62 seconds to chase Price out of the crease as Canadiens head coach, Claude Julien, replaced his starter with Kinkaid after Bjork made it, 5-1.

Pastrnak (23) finalized his hat trick less than halfway through the game with a shot that beat Kinkaid at 9:06 of the second period– scoring his 2nd hat trick of the season and 6th of his career.

Brandon Carlo (6) and Krejci (13) had the assists on Pastrnak’s hat trick goal as Boston made it, 6-1, in Montreal.

The 23-year-old right winger for the Bruins, Pastrnak, leads the NHL with 23 goals in 24 team games– the most by any player within 25 team games since the 2005-06 season, when Simon Gagne had 23 goals through this point in the season with the Philadelphia Flyers.

A few minutes later, Clifton caught Tatar with a high stick and was sent to the penalty box with a minor infraction at 12:43, but the Habs didn’t score on the ensuing power play.

Through 40 minutes of play at Bell Centre, the Bruins led, 6-1, on the scoreboard, but trailed the Canadiens, 27-15, in shots on goal.

Montreal held the advantage in shots on net in the second period alone (14-7) and led in hits (23-15), while Boston had the advantage in blocked shots (12-9), giveaways (18-16) and faceoff win% (51-49).

Both teams had six takeaways aside, while the Canadiens were 0/2 on the power play and the B’s were still 2/2 on the skater advantage (only one penalty was called in the second period and it was against Boston).

Almost midway through the final frame of regulation, Kuraly worked the puck to Torey Krug as Krug broke into the zone heading for the net, before dropping a pass back to Coyle (5) for the one-timer from the slot that beat Kinkaid to make it, 7-1, for Boston.

Krug (14) and Kuraly (6) had the assists on Coyle’s goal at 8:26 of the third period.

Midway through the third, Studnicka reacted to a cross check from Max Domi and the two were sent to the box– Studnicka for rouding and Domi for cross checking at 15:38.

Just 20 seconds after both teams resumed full strength action, Studnicka sent a pass from the trapezoid to Heinen in the slot, whereby Heinen (5) one-timed a shot past Kinkaid.

Studnicka (1) collected the primary assist and his first career NHL point– in his first career game, nonetheless– and Krug (15) tallied the secondary assist on Heinen’s goal as the Bruins led, 8-1, at 17:58.

At the final horn, Boston had finished off Montreal, 8-1, in their first eight-goal game at Bell Centre since Oct. 28, 1998 (a, 9-2, win), as well as their first eight-goal game against the Habs in general since Feb. 9, 2011 (an, 8-6, win at TD Garden).

The Canadiens finished the night leading in shots on goal (37-24)– including a, 10-9, advantage in the third period alone– and in hits (34-19).

The B’s wrapped up Tuesday night leading in blocked shots (16-12) and giveaways (24-18), while both teams split faceoff win%, 50-50.

Montreal finished the night 0/2 on the skater advantage, while Boston went 2/2 on the power play.

The last time a Bruin scored a hat trick in Montreal was on Nov. 30, 1987, when Steve Kasper notched three goals in a, 6-4, loss at Montreal Forum.

Boston finishes their quick two-game road trip (1-0-0) with a Wednesday night matchup in Ottawa against the Senators after traveling by train from Montreal overnight on Tuesday.

The B’s return home after completing games in back-to-back nights with a Black Friday matinee against the New York Rangers in the NHL’s 2019 Discover Thanksgiving Showdown.

Boston will debut their new third jersey in Friday’s matchup.