MONTREAL- A mishandle of the puck off the stick of Kevan Miller in the first period, and a slight hesitation from Tuukka Rask in the second was all the Montreal Canadiens needed to defeat the Boston Bruins in Game 6, 4-0, and force a winner-take-all Game 7 in Boston Wednesday night.
Just 2:11 into Game 6, Miller was unable to handle a pass from defensive partner Torey Krug behind the Bruins’ net. The puck took the perfect bounce for the Habs, finding the stick of Lars Eller who had no difficulty slipping the puck into the open net.
“It kind of took the energy out of us because they got that goal in the first couple of minutes there,” said Rask. “We definitely didn’t manage the puck as well as we wanted to in the beginning and it gave them that goal.”
With the Bruins still down by a goal and flying all over the ice as they looked to tie the game, another blunder haunted the Bruins.
A lob pass from Nathan Beaulieu—who was playing in his first NHL playoff game—found space in between Rask and Canadiens’ forward Max Pacioretty. Rask took a quick stride forward before deciding to stop and head back to his net. The slight hesitation gave Pacioretty enough time to sneak the puck through Rask’s five-hole, extending the lead to two. It didn’t help Rask too much that Zdeno Chara lost the race with Pacioretty to the puck.
The Bruins came out flat in the game’s first 10 minutes, but once they shook off whatever it was that slowed them down to start the game, they seemed to get things going. Pacioretty’s goal did a great job deflating the Black and Gold.
As has been the issue all series long, the Bruins had multiple chances to get on the board. Loui Eriksson riffled a shot off the crossbar in the first period while Milan Lucic’s second period shot trickled just wide of a wide open Canadiens’ net. The game would have been a whole different story had the B’s capitalized on their chances.
“Bouncing puck, overshoot it, it’s just one of those plays that you get nine out of ten times and today was that one that you didn’t get and if you get the same opportunity next game you need to make sure you bury it,” said Lucic.
The Bruins thought they had finally got themselves a goal in the third period as a bouncing puck found its way past Carey Price, but the hockey gods and David Desharnais’ hand kept the puck from crossing the line. The play was ruled no-goal on the ice and a quick call to the league offices in Toronto confirmed that.
Thomas Vanek’s power play goal 2:15 after Pacioretty’s tally ended any chance of another Bruins’ third period comeback. The Bruins killer – who now has four goals and an assist in the series – added an empty net goal for his fifth goal of the playoffs.
Monday’s contest was by far the series’ most physical contest with the two teams combining for 73 hits – the most they have combined for in regulation so far this series. Usually a physical game like that works in the Bruins favor, but it seemed as if the physical play motivated the Canadiens.
“Every game is physical,” said Habs’ defenseman P.K. Subban. “Every game is intense and that’s the way we expect it to be.”
Things got a little out of hand in the game’s final minute as 30 penalty minutes were handed out including matching 10-minute misconducts to Jarome Iginla and Mike Weaver.
Bruins’ head coach Claude Julien wasn’t too pleased with what unfolded at the end of the game.
“We’re perceived as the bad guys and they’re the good guys and you know when [Andrei] Markov trips [Zdeno] Chara and then he puts his stick in between his legs and nothing is going to be called, somebody is going to react” stated Julien.
The combination of their defensive blunders and missed opportunities was the perfect recipe for Montreal to force Game 7. Julien had a simple answer when asked what he expected in Game 7.
“I expect us to win,” said Julien with a smile.
You can bet that Montreal expects to win as well, and honestly, why shouldn’t they?
Hear what the Bruins had to say following their 4-0 Game 6 loss in Montreal Monday night: