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  • What we learned: Bruins steal an OT win in Montreal

    Ryan Ames March 21, 2022
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    They don’t ask how; they ask how many.

    Despite their subpar puck management, the Boston Bruins pulled out a 3-2 overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens Monday night at the Bell Centre.

    Brad Marchand scored twice for the Bruins, including the game-winner 34 seconds into OT. Connor Clifton set Marchand up for the heroics after netting his second of the season late in regulation.

    It didn’t take long for the Bruins to clinch their 39th win of the season. Erik Haula hit a late-arriving Marchand just inside the offensive zone with a pass, and the B’s veteran had a wide-open lane in front of Montreal goalie Jake Allen. Marchand promptly deked around the Habs keeper to send the B’s home victorious a mere 34 seconds into the extra session.

    “First-place, last-place, somewhere in between either team, it’s still a passionate game and I thought that’s what took place tonight,” Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said. “They were physical early, had a couple big hits and we tried to respond with that and let the game play out.”

    Marchand furthered his goal-scoring streak to three straight games moments after exiting the penalty box for a tripping minor in the first period. Haula fed Marchand near the far post, and No. 63 slid the puck past a diving Jake Allen to give the B’s a 1-0 lead.

    The Canadiens leveled the ice in the second period and took advantage of a defensive-zone lapse from the Bruins on a tally from David Savard. The Habs’ defenseman swerved into the slot unchecked and roofed a backhander to knot the score at 1-1.

    Joel Armia put the Habs up 2-1 early in the third on a shorthanded breakaway strike after intercepting a head-scratching cross-ice pass from Marchand at the blue line.

    Despite being outshot, 17-5, the Canadiens were the better team over the final 20 minutes. But Clifton’s equalizer with less than three minutes left gave the B’s life, which carried over into Marchand’s overtime winner.

    Here’s what we learned following an ugly Black and Gold win over Bleu, Blanc et Rouge:

    Turnovers were aplenty

    The Bruins finished the night with 35 giveaways against the cellar-dwelling Canadiens, with Marchand’s egregious misplay nearly costing the B’s the game.

    https://twitter.com/CanadiensMTL/status/1506074140788367362?s=20&t=5FPit1nNxJM8_HmOHbSHhQ

    “That was a terrible play on my behalf, obviously,” Marchand said of his third-period blunder. “Very happy [Clifton] bailed me out on that one.”

    The Habs were harder to play against in the latter 40 minutes, but the B’s also made them look way better with their head-scratching puck decisions. Their frequent blind backhand passes into the middle of the ice, in particular, gave Montreal more chances than it deserved.

    “I thought our problem was our puck management, and that gets us sometimes,” Cassidy said. “We weren’t executing clean, so now you’re forcing plays, making soft plays on your backhand in the neutral zone. Obviously, the second [Montreal] goal is a careless play. That’s where we got into trouble.”

    Every Bruins skater except Taylor Hall and Tomas Nosek ended the night with at least one giveaway.

    Jake Allen gave the Bruins just about all they could handle

    A 43 save performance is a solid night for any goalie in the NHL. Even in a losing effort, Allen proved that theory true on Monday.

    The Montreal keeper gave his team a shot to win with at least 13 saves in each of the three regulation periods, including a how-do-you-do glove stop on Marchand in the closing seconds of the middle frame.

    “He played well tonight,” Jake DeBrusk said of Allen. “He made some great saves tonight, especially while we were on the power play. There was a couple in and around the net, got to give him credit for that. I thought he gave them a chance to win, just as [Jeremy Swayman] did.”

    The Bruins went 0-for-4 on the man advantage while Swayman fought through a tough stretch in the middle of the game to record the 26-save win.

    B’s on brink of sweeping the Habs

    With one game remaining against their arch-rivals this season, the Bruins will look to pick up its first sweep against the Canadiens since the 2017-18 season. In the three wins this year, the Bruins have outscored the lowly Habs, 13-5.

    The Canadiens haven’t beaten the Bruins since Nov. 5, 2019.

    The Original Six foes will meet one final time on Apr. 24 in Montreal.

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