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Special Teams Sink Bruins in Game 1 Loss to Canadiens

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P.K. Subban's two power play goals helped the Canadiens defeat the Bruins 4-3 in double overtime of Game 1 (Photo by Joe Makarski, Bruins Daily)

Hockey games are often decided based off of which one of the two teams wins the special teams’ battle. That statement rang true Thursday night as the Bruins and Canadiens kicked off their second round match-up in Boston. Unfortunately for the Bruins, they lost both the special teams’ battle and the hockey game.

After two different performances in the first round, the special teams’ play of both clubs was a hot topic heading into Thursday’s contest. The Bruins were tremendous on special teams in their five games against the Red Wings, converting on six of their 16 power plays while killing off 18 of the 20 Red Wings power plays.

Montreal wasn't as good on special teams as the Bruins were in the opening round, despite a four game series sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Habs scored just two power play goals in 13 chances while allowing the Lightning to score twice on seven chances.

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In Game 1 of their Atlantic Divison Final series with the Bruins, the Canadiens used two P.K. Subban power play goals to open their best of seven series with a 4-3 double overtime win.

Montreal took to the power play in the first period after Matt Bartkowski was called for tripping Dale Weise. The call was one of the softer ones made by the referees Thursday night.

Subban made Bartkowski pay by sending a wrist shot from the point past Tuukka Rask for his first goal of the playoffs.

Trailing by two in the second period, the Bruins found themselves on the power play, looking to use the man advantage to cut the Canadiens’ lead in half. The Bruins had their chances on the power play, but a combination of missed opportunities and big saves by Carey Price were enough to keep the Bruins without a power play tally.

Luckily for the Bruins, they were able to tie the game later on with two third period goals. The Bruins finished the night 0-2 on the power play.

After a scoreless first overtime, the two longtime rivals hit the ice for double overtime. For the second time in the game Bartkowski was called for a penalty, this time for holding. The penalty was the second overtime penalty called against the Bruins.

Just like he did in the first period, Subban made Bartkowski pay for his penalty from almost the exact spot he did hours prior. Subban's second power play tally of the game gave the Canadiens the road Game 1 win.

“When we get an opportunity like that, two power plays, I just try and be the difference and try and put the puck on net” said Subban.

Getting pucks on net was all Subban and the Canadiens had to do to beat Rask and the Bruins. For Rask, there were a couple of goals scored in Game 1 that he felt he should have stopped.

“It’s tough” said Rask who made 29 saves in the loss. “I mean, you need your PK [penalty kill] to step up. We did in the beginning and then those things happen and just a floater from the blue line and I can’t catch it. It sucks.”

In overtime you’ll usually see referees let a lot of stuff go, stuff that would most likely be called penalties during regulation. Losing a game on a power play goal after you erased two different deficits to force overtime is a tough pill for the Bruins to swallow.

“Unfortunately, especially in overtime, it’s tough to make a call when you have to” stated Daniel Paille. We were on the wrong side of that, unfortunately. Normally, we were able to kill those and we just couldn’t do that today.”

Bruins fans may not agree with the two overtime penalties called against the Bruins, but head coach Claude Julien knows the blame can only be pointed at his team for taking the penalties.

“Yeah, I just answered that in French. I said they were both penalties, so there’s no issues in my mind with that. That’s the way it is. And could there have been some others in the overtime? Maybe, but the ones that they called against us were definitely penalties” said Julien.

For Bartkowski and the Bruins, it’s important that they put this one behind them and get ready for an big Game 2, Saturday afternoon in Boston.

“We’ve got a day here to go over what we need to do better” said Bartkowski. “A lot of it I think is just intensity and bringing our game.”

Intensity and bringing their game will be a big part of Game 2, but special teams’ will most likely once again be a key factor.

Hear what the Bruins and Canadiens had to say following their double overtime Game 1: