BOSTON– Just over two and a half weeks ago, there was the same build up for the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens matchup. Even with the talk of bad blood, 911 calls and the overall hatred between these two teams, Tim Thomas and the Bruins came out of that game with a mind-blowing 7-0 win in front of their home crowd.
Thursday night’s game couldn’t have been more different.
Montreal goaltender Carey Price gave up six goals last time he was out on the Boston ice, but remained perfect between the pipes, putting up 31 saves in Thursday night’s 2-0 Canadien playoff outing over the Bruins. The series has been hyped up all weekend, the atmosphere was electric, and there was no less bad blood than there was before. What was the difference?
“It is different in the playoffs,” Price said in regards to how both teams played. “Things that happen in the regular season don’t necessarily happen in the playoffs because it costs a lot more. Teams are playing differently. We expected that type of game out of them and they definitely played physical but our guys didn’t back down.”
Though neither team suffered any goal against due to penalties on Thursday, neither team created any sort of momentum or motivation that had been so prevalent in the past couple of games between these teams.
With nothing becoming more physical than a handful of shoving matches after the whistle, the Bruins tried the shooting game against Montreal instead, but came up short 31 times. They did manage to keep the Canadiens to just 21 shots, two of which leaked by Bruins netminder Tim Thomas, and both from Montreal captain Brian Gionta. The first one came just 2:44 into the game where Gionta netted it in left side. Gionta’s second one broke any spirits Boston might have had left, with 3:18 remaining in the third period.
While some weren’t pretty, and others considered lucky, Price seemed either to be at the right place at the right time to make some incredible saves against a very talented, though somewhat snake-bitten Bruins first line.
“Carey (Price) did a great job,” Gionta said. “If you look at some of the saves he made, it is one-nothing game for most of it, and he keeps us in that game. He gives us a chance like he has all year.”
This is the sixth time the Bruins have been shutout by their opponent at home this year and the second time in two years they have lost game one in the first round of the playoffs.
With the loss, one major flaw that has been a gaping wound for the Bruins is the power play. The Black and Gold went 0-3 on the man-advantage with five total shots split between the three. But, according to Boston forward Brad Marchand, the solution comes back to just doing the basics right.
“I think we just have to get more bodies in front of the net and shoot more pucks at the net,” Marchand said. “If we do that, rebounds pop out and guys will be there to kind of put them home. But I think the biggest thing is we have to throw more pucks at the net.”
These two teams will face off again on Saturday for Game two at TD Garden, where the Bruins will hope to tie up the series in what forward Nathan Horton is calling a “must-win game.”
“We don’t want to go down zero and two,” Horton said. “Like I said it’s a long series but we definitely don’t want to go down when we haven’t won a game at home. You can look at it like that but I think you need to embrace the situation and have fun out there and really press hard to get that win because it’s a big one.”