BOSTON – Amidst all the events surrounding Thursday’s game at TD Garden, someone had to make a statement one way or another in this late regular season contest.
On Thursday, that team happened to be the Boston Bruins.
“We wanted to have a good, strong performance tonight,” said captain Zdeno Chara, who had three assists on the night. “Montreal is playing well and they’re obviously a good team. But our focus was obviously on our game.”
In their wild win last month against the Montreal Canadiens, the two hated rivals combined for 187 penalty minutes and 14 goals. In the Bruins’ last loss to Montreal, the team seemed to carry the events surrounding Chara’s hit on Max Pacioretty — which didn’t result in a suspension or a fine from the league — going on a 1-3-3 slump during a seven-game span.
But after their 4-1 win over the Devils Tuesday night, there seemed to be some weight lifted of the Bruins’ shoulders. And the B’s carried that momentum into Thursday’s 7-0 win over the Habs.
“It was a big game and our record in the past against them hasn’t been very good,” said forward Nathan Horton, who had a two-goal night (scoring a power play tally at 17:28 of the first and a goal at 4:23 of the third). “We wanted to finish out strong and it’s exactly how I pictured it.”
That picture became clear when Johnny Boychuk fired a bullet past Habs goalie Carey Price just 61 seconds into the contest to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead, and obviously didn’t look back. Also getting on the scoresheet were Gregory Campbell — who also had a two-goal night (including a 5-on-3 goal at 13:35 of the third) — Adam McQuaid — who scored his second goal against the Habs this season — and Tomas Kaberle — who registered his first goal as a member of the Black and Gold.
Not only did the Bruins’ make a statement on the score sheet, but they also out hustled and out muscled the opposition creating several odd-man rushes and throwing their weight around on many occasions.
And out of all of this, the only fight that happened on this night came late in the second period when Campbell and Habs defenseman (and former Bruin) Paul Mara dropped the gloves.
“We knew they were going to come in and play hard and try to win a hockey game. And they were going to play, but we had to do our things to make ourselves successful,” said Bruins forward Mark Recchi. “We’ve won two out of the last three against them now, which is more important.”
Speaking of Recchi, his comments that he said on “Felger and Mazz” have obviously generated some traction the past several hours.
But during the opening statement of his postgame comments, the 43-year-old veteran admitted that his statement on the Canadiens’ “embellishing” the extent of Pacioretty’s injury were designed to get some heat off of Chara, who is still being investigated by the Montreal police.
“Well I have to be honest with you guys,” Recchi told the media, “I wanted to take the heat off Z for a day and I’m a big boy. And I think anyone who knows me, knows I have a great respect for the Montreal organization, I played five years there. I have great respect for Dr. [David] Mulder, and the medical staff there. I took the pressure off of Z.
“In 22 years, I’ve respected all my teammates and all the players I played against. My record has shown that. And it’s still an unfortunate situation. We all hope Max gets a full recovery here soon and we know he’s well on his way. This is something that I believe in 22 years; I’ve been very respectful to players and opponents throughout. So that should be the end of it really…I did what I had to do.”
Most of the Bruins admitted that they didn’t hear what Recchi said yesterday on Felger and Mazz, and even head coach Claude Julien reiterated that he wasn’t going to go into the “he said, she said” drama during the postgame press conference, but admitted that Recchi knew “exactly what he was doing” by protecting his teammate.
In any event, the fact that Recchi, and the rest of team, made a statement one way or another with their display that could go a very long way, especially if the two teams meet during the Stanley Cup playoffs.