The Bruins welcomed the Montreal Canadians to the TD Garden Saturday night to write another chapter in the historic and heated rivalry. This one did not go quite the way the Black and Gold envisioned.
With their undefeated home record this season on the line, the Bruins came out flat-footed and simply laid an egg, falling to the Canadians, 3-0.
The Bruins fell into an early 2-0 first period hole and never recovered as Carey Price and the Canadiens frustrated Bruce Cassidy’s squad all night.
“You can’t chase the game all of the time. It’s ok to be down one but to get down two it gives the other team a lot of juice,” Cassidy said about his team’s first period shortcomings. “At the end of the day, I don’t think we generated enough offense. We just didn’t have it. We did not execute well enough. Two goals shouldn’t beat you at home – we have the ability to score – but it did tonight and that is credit to their goaltender and the way they check.”
Here is what we learned as the Habs snapped their six-game skid against their hated rivals.
Very few prognosticators pegged Claude Julien’s squad to do much this season. The Canadiens are exceeding those early expectations as their 14 points sit tied with the Bruins in the Atlantic Division standings.
The Canadians registered wins against Calgary, Detroit, St. Louis and Pittsburgh twice prior to Saturday. There was a general consensus around the league that they would not be able to sustain this early success. Saturday night, however, we found out that Montreal is going to be a tough out for not only Boston, but for the rest of the division this year.
Price’s night was rather routine, but he made key stops in crunch time, including a spectacular glove save on a Joakim Nordstrom slap shot in the second period to preserve the two-goal lead and seal the Montreal victory.
“I mean obviously he’s great goalie but I don’t think his job was very hard tonight,” Patrice Bergeron said about Price’s 32-save shutout effort.
The combination of their young talent including Max Domi and Brendan Gallagher, who both tallied against the Bruins, in tandem with Price still playing at an elite level in net, makes the Canadians an intriguing team to watch.
The latest trend around the Bruins this season is for everyone to have a hot take about how there is a goaltender controversy in Boston and how Tuukka Rask might not be the best option as a starting goaltender.
Saturday’s game did little to help the Finnish netminder’s case.
Rask only allowed two goals on 22 shots, a generally decent outing by most standards. But it was more about the quality of goals that he let up rather than the quantity that left people questioning his abilities.
Take for instance the first goal. Gallagher snuck a shot that had no business finding the back of the net between Rask and the post and it set the Bruins behind the proverbial 8-ball.
“It was a soft goal,” Cassidy said about Gallagher’s tally. “As a team…our goaltender has to be able to get out of the first period without being too far behind.”
“I picked the wrong seal there. In this day and age, if you’re not sealing completely it’s going to go through,” Rask said about his first period miscue.” Unfortunately, it went through and it’s my bad. It took us a few minutes after that to get going again and I have to make that save. Whatever, next time I’ll do a better save.”
Rask will still get his opportunities while Cassidy still rotates him with Jaroslav Halak. But he’ll need to string together consistent performances if he wants to solidify his standing as Boston’s top goaltender.
Otherwise, his frustrations will mount as will his usage of postgame comments.
“Today, I thought my puck play was horse [expletive] to begin with,” Rask noted.
Ryan Donato is slowly finding his way
Ryan Donato showcased his talent and potential when he tallied 12 points in the final nine games of 2017-18. Things haven’t been as easy for the former Harvard standout, however, during the first few weeks of the 2018-19 campaign.
Donato spent time floating around the second, third and fourth lines during Boston’s first 11 games. He also spent time watching from the press box as a healthy scratch against Edmonton on Oct. 11.
Despite his early struggles, things started to click for the second generation Donato against Montreal, as he was the lone bright spot for Boston’s anemic offense Saturday night.
The 22-year-old was active at both ends of the ice, created several scoring chances and even drew a penalty during the third period. Donato, for a brief moment, found the back of the net and gave the Bruins a glimmer of hope with a beautiful shot that beat snuck over Price’s shoulder. That all went for naught — after Julien called for a replay challenge — when Anders Bjork jumped offside.
It is borderline criminal that his efforts didn’t show up on the score sheet against the Canadians. But his poise and confidence was an encouraging sign during an otherwise frustrating night on Causeway Street.
Matt is a recent graduate from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in sports journalism and a minor in business. He currently reports on the Boston Bruins and writes featured stories and game recaps for both Bruins Daily and Boston.com
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