Brad Marchand scored a hat trick, while Curtis Lazar had three points (two goals, one assist) and Linus Ullmark made 24 saves in a, 5-1, win for the Boston Bruins over the Montréal Canadiens Wednesday night at TD Garden.
Ullmark (12-5-0, 2.48 goals-against average, .918 save percentage in 17 games played) turned aside 24 out of 25 shots faced in the win for Boston.
Montréal starter, Jake Allen (5-16-2, 3.15 goals-against average, .901 save percentage in 24 games played), made five saves on seven shots against before an injury forced him out of the game in the loss.
Canadiens head coach, Dominique Ducharme, replaced Allen with Sam Montembeault (1-6-2, 3.99 goals-against average, .895 save percentage in 12 games played) 17:11 into the action.
Montembeault made 31 saves on 34 shots for no decision.
The Bruins improved to 20-11-2 (42 points) overall and remain in command of 4th place in the Atlantic Division standings, while the Habs fell to 7-24-4 (18 points) on the season and stuck in 8th place (last) in the Atlantic.
The B’s are now 2-0-0 against the Canadiens this season in their regular season series with a pair of games left to play in Montréal.
Tuukka Rask served as the backup goaltender for Boston on Wednesday after recovering from offseason hip surgery and signing a one-year contract with a cap hit of $1.000 million ($545,000 in actual salary given the time of the signing) on Tuesday.
Rask went 15-5-2 in 24 games last season with a 2.28 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage in that span, as well as two shutouts.
In 560 career National Hockey League games since making his NHL debut in the 2007-08 season, Rask has 306 wins, a career 2.27 goals-against average, a career .921 save percentage and 52 shutouts.
He holds Bruins franchise records in games played by a goalie (560), wins (306), shots against (15,485), saves (14,269), save percentage (.922) and minutes (32,206) and ranks second in goals-against average (2.27, trailing Tiny Thompson’s 1.99 career GAA in a B’s sweater), as well as shutouts (52, trailing Thompson’s 74).
As a result of Rask’s signing, Jeremy Swayman was assigned to the Providence Bruins (AHL) as Swayman is not eligible for the NHL’s taxi squad designation.
Boston Sports Journal‘s Conor Ryan noted in a tweet on Tuesday that Rask “was assigned to Providence 10 times between Sept. 2007 and Feb. 2009 before finally carving out an NHL spot. One of those assignments was two days after a 21-year-old Rask had a 35-save shutout against NYR. It’s part of the process,” in an effort to quell feelings of uneasiness watching Swaymen get sent down among Bruins fans.
B’s General Manager, Don Sweeney, informed reporters on Tuesday that Swayman, while disappointed, understands the organization’s decision and shows the drive to get back to the NHL level if an injury or otherwise should occur and necessitate another call-up.
The Bruins were without the services of Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Nick Foligno (lower body), Connor Clifton (COVID-19 protocol), Derek Forbort (COVID-19 protocol) and Trent Frederic (upper body) on Wednesday night.
Boston head coach, Bruce Cassidy, told reporters ahead of the game against Montréal that Frederic would miss the next two games– at least– while Foligno could return to action next week.
Meanwhile, Jake DeBrusk and Tomáš Nosek returned from the league’s COVID-19 protocol and were re-inserted in the lineup against the Canadiens.
DeBrusk suited up on the third line in his usual spot at left wing with Charlie Coyle at center and Oskar Steen at right wing, while Nosek resumed his regular role as the fourth line center– flanked by Anton Blidh and Lazar on the wings.
On defense, Cassidy left his pairings alone from Monday night’s, 7-3, win in Washington, D.C. despite Boston having called up Tyler Lewington on an emergency basis.
Urho Vaakanainen, John Moore, Troy Grosenick and Steven Fogarty were reassigned to Providence on Tuesday in what was simply a paper transaction for Vaakanainen and Moore (the pair were recalled prior to facing the Canadiens), while Grosenick and Fogarty remained with the P-Bruins on Wednesday.
Boston’s long list of players out of the lineup against Montréal included Frederic (upper body), Foligno (lower body), Forbort (COVID-19 protocol), Lewington (taxi squad), Zboril (right ACL), Clifton (COVID-19 protocol) and Karson Kuhlman (healthy scratch).
Prior to the singing of the anthems, the Bruins held a moment of silence to honor the life of Teddy Balkind, a 16-year-old hockey player from Connecticut that was killed as a result of an injury that he sustained in a game last week.
Midway through the opening frame, Jeff Petry had his helmet knocked off by Blidh and kept on playing as if nothing had happened. Except that’s a penalty these days.
Petry cut a rut to the box for playing without a helmet and presented the Bruins with the night’s first power play at 9:22 of the first period, but Boston couldn’t muster anything on the skater advantage.
Late in the period, Marchand snuck onto the ice in the midst of a line change and stood open on the left side of the net on the doorstep as Nosek sent a shot-pass to Marchand (17) for the redirection behind Allen.
The Bruins led, 1-0, as Nosek (5) and Lazar (6) notched the assists on Marchand’s first goal of the night at 14:43 of the first period.
A mere 15 seconds later, Marchand (18) one-timed the puck out of mid-air through Allen’s five-hole after the rubber biscuit was initially shot by Craig Smith off of a Montréal defender— high and wide before bouncing off the glass over the net to Marchand.
Smith (8) and Patrice Bergeron (16) tallied the assists on Marchand’s second goal of the game and Boston led, 2-0, at 14:58.
Marchand, as a result, became the first Bruin to score a pair of goals in 15 seconds since Milan Lucic notched a pair en route to scoring a hat trick against the Florida Panthers in a, 4-0, win on Nov. 18, 2010, at TD Garden.
Coincidentally, Marchand would later complete a hat trick of his own in Wednesday night’s victory.
After giving up two goals that were 15 seconds apart, Allen spoke with a Canadiens athletic trainer and was taken out of the game.
Late in the period, DeBrusk sent a shot towards the net looking for an intentional deflection off of Lazar’s (4) foot and into the twine.
DeBrusk (5) and Matt Grzelcyk (12) earned the assists as the Bruins took a, 3-0, lead at 19:10 of the first period.
Heading into the first intermission, Boston led, 3-0, on the scoreboard and, 13-6, in shots on goal.
The B’s also led in faceoff win percentage (59-41), while the Canadiens dominated in blocked shots (7-1), takeaways (5-1), giveaways (2-0) and hits (14-12).
Montréal had yet to see any action on the skater advantage, while Boston was 0/1 on the power play heading into the middle frame.
Bergeron slashed Jonathan Drouin to avoid giving up a quick goal in the second period, but was sent to the box at 3:19 anyway– yielding a power play to the Canadiens as a result.
Montréal couldn’t convert on the ensuing skater advantage, but got another chance at 6:41 of the second period when Erik Haula was assessed a hooking minor for yanking on Mike Hoffman with his stick.
The Canadiens were subsequently embarrassed on the ensuing special teams play, however, as Marchand (19) scored a shorthanded goal to complete his hat trick and give Boston a, 4-0, lead at 7:10.
Moore (1) and Bergeron (17) had the assists as Marchand picked out a hat from the ice to give to an equipment manager on the Bruins’ bench for safekeeping until after the game.
For the fifth time in his career, Marchand had scored a hat trick and became just the second Bruin to amass three goals in a game this season as Bergeron had previously done so in a, 5-1, win against the Detroit Red Wings on Nov. 4, 2021.
Less than a minute later, Ben Chiarot was sent to the box for roughing at 7:50, but Boston couldn’t capitalize on the resulting power play.
Moments later, Michael Pezzetta (2) received a pass from Brett Kulak and spun around before flinging the puck on Ullmark’s short side– scoring a goal as the Bruins failed to clear the zone and broke down in their own end.
Kulak (7) had the only assist as the Canadiens trailed, 4-1, at 10:46 of the second period.
A minute later, Bergeron went back to the box for roughing at 11:49 as he retaliated for a hit behind his own net that he didn’t like when a Montréal player took down Grzelcyk below the goal line.
Montréal’s power play was cut short as Nick Suzuki was penalized for holding at 13:41, resulting in a little 4-on-4 action for nine seconds before an abbreviated power play for Boston began.
Finally, at 19:10 of the second period, Kulak cut a rut to the sin bin for slashing, but the Bruins wouldn’t convert on the skater advantage even as it bled into the final frame of regulation.
Through 40 minutes of play, the B’s led, 4-1, on the scoreboard and dominated in shots on goal, 28-15, including a, 15-9, advantage in the middle frame alone.
The Habs, meanwhile, led in blocked shots (10-3), takeaways (6-2), giveaways (5-4) and hits (22-17), as Boston controlled faceoff win%, 53-47.
Montréal was 0/3 and the Bruins were 0/4 on the power play heading into the second intermission.
Prior to the start of the third period, the Bruins tweeted that Moore would not return to the night’s action with an upper body injury.
Smith tripped Joel Armia 47 seconds into the third period and yielded 26 seconds of 4-on-4 action before an abbreviated power play for Montréal as a result.
The Canadiens didn’t score on the ensuing skater advantage.
Moments later, Marchand took down Suzuki as the Canadiens forward almost had his stick on the puck resulting in an interference minor for Marchand at 5:48 of the third period.
It wasn’t that much longer before things started to get chippy on the ice between the two rival clubs.
A scrum after a whistle at 6:57 of the third period quickly descended into an exchange of forceful shoves and move as Pezzetta and Carlo received roughing minors while Chris Wideman head-butted Haula– further escalating the situation.
Haula received a minor for roughing, while Wideman was assessed two minutes for roughing as well as an unsportsmanlike conduct infraction.
Both teams skated at 4-on-4 for a little longer before resuming full even strength, resulting in a dominant possession for the Bruins at the other end.
Vaakanainen blasted a shot from the point that deflected off of Lazar’s (5) blade and flew under Montembeault’s blocker to give Boston another four-goal lead at 10:19 of the third period.
Vaakanainen (3) and Blidh (6) tallied the assists on Lazar’s second goal of the game and the Bruins led, 5-1.
Minutes later, Ullmark and Laurent Dauphin exchanged pleasantries leading a quick chop that went uncalled as Ullmark instead received an interference minor and Dauphin was handed an embellishment infraction.
Taylor Hall served Ullmark’s penalty while Dauphin had to answer Haula in an exchange of fisticuffs as the boiling point had been reached at 15:o5 of the third period in just the ninth fighting major this season for the Bruins.
The action simmered down afterwards and remained relatively calm as the final minutes winded down and the final horn sounded.
Boston had won, 5-1, and finished the night leading in shots on goal, 41-25.
Montréal left TD Garden with the advantage in blocked shots (10-4), giveaways (10-5) and hits (29-21), while the Bruins exited their own ice leading in faceoff win% (54-46).
Both teams went 0/5 on the power play on Wednesday as the B’s earned their third three-game win streak of the season.
Boston improved to 13-5-0 (6-3-0 at home) when scoring first, 14-0-0 (6-0-0 at home) when leading after one period and 15-1-0 (5-1-0 at home) when leading after two periods this season.
The Canadiens, meanwhile, fell to 2-20-1 (0-11-1 on the road) when allowing the game’s first goal, 1-13-2 (0-9-2 on the road) when trailing after the first period and 1-20-2 (0-11-2 on the road) when trailing after the second period in 2021-22.
The Bruins (1-0-0) continue their seven-game homestand on Thursday night against the Philadelphia Flyers (7 p.m. ET on ESPN) before hosting the Nashville Predators on Saturday.
The Carolina Hurricanes, Washington Capitals, Winnipeg Jets and Anaheim Ducks will also visit Boston before the B’s hit the road on Jan. 26th in Colorado.