Alexei Emelin cross-checked Tyler Seguin, after which Zdeno Chara chased Emelin and delivered a string of uppercuts. Milan Lucic fought Brandon Prust. Brad Marchand accused P.K. Subban of ducking a fight with Nathan Horton. Claude Julien accused the Canadiens of embarrassing embellishment. The Canadiens scored two straight third-period goals to beat the Bruins on Sunday night at TD Garden, 4-3.
Yes, you could say the Bruins-Canadiens rivalry is back to its white-hot status.
“Subban’s asking me to fight, and three or four guys ask to fight him, and he’s running scared from Horty,” Marchand said. “He comes after the smallest guy on the team. It just shows the kind of character they have there.”
Marchand and Subban clashed in the second period, when Subban tried to flatten Marchand with a hip check. Moments later, Subban jawed at Marchand, trying to provoke the forward into a fight. Marchand didn’t oblige.
The two have a history. On Dec. 17, 2010, Subban dropped Marchand with an open-ice hit at the Bell Centre. On Oct. 27, 2011, Subban and Marchand fought at the Garden.
On Sunday, Marchand wasn’t the only one to finger Subban for transgressions. Julien flung a blanket accusation on the Canadiens for Oscar-worthy acting, citing Subban as the leading candidate for Best Actor. Julien didn’t cite any specific plays.
The Canadiens have gone on the power play 100 times this season, the most of any team in the league. On Sunday, they went 1 for 5 on the power play. The Bruins went 0 for 2 on the man advantage.
“Tonight, as everybody saw, there was a lot of embellishment,” said Julien. “This is embarrassing for our game, the embellishing. They’ve got 100 power plays so far. It’s pretty obvious why. We’re trying to clean that out of our game. It’s got to be done soon. Because it’s not about tonight. It’s about the game. The embellishment embarrasses our game. We’ve got to be better about that. It’s pretty obvious when P.K. gets hit, he throws himself into the glass and holds his head. You know what? We start calling those things for embellishment, maybe teams stop doing it. Until we take charge of that, it’s going to be an issue.”
The postgame trash talk underscored the dislike that is bubbling between the teams. But Marchand was quick to toss Valentines toward the Canadiens as well as grenades. There is respect as well as hate.
“We knew they weren’t going to give up,” Marchand said. “They’re a pretty resilient team. They fight all the way to the end. Even the last game we played them, we were up, 2-1, and they battled all the way to the buzzer.”
The Canadiens scored their goals by being relentless. In the third, they wiped out a 3-2 deficit when Max Pacioretty snapped a long shot past Tuukka Rask at 5:31. Rask (22 saves) usually turns back such shots with ease, but he didn’t get a great look at the puck. That’s because David Desharnais had his backside planted squarely in Rask’s mask, keeping the goalie from keeping his eyes trained on the puck.
The Canadiens scored the go-ahead goal with equal ferocity. They rushed the net, and Pacioretty was in position when the puck squirted his way. When Desharnais broke for the net, Pacioretty slipped him the puck for the winner at 9:17.
“They’re playing very well right now,” Marchand said. “They’ve got some young guys that are playing really well and with a lot of energy. We’re definitely in a battle with them the rest of the year. We have to make sure we come out on top.”
The only line that consistently matched Montreal’s tenacity was the threesome of Marchand, Seguin, and Patrice Bergeron. They created scoring chances on nearly every shift.
In the first period, after the Canadiens won a defensive-zone draw, Marchand stripped Josh Gorges of the puck and fed Bergeron, who shuttled the puck to Seguin, who scored from point-blank range at 10:47.
In the second, Marchand’s passing led to another goal. From deep in his zone, Marchand banked an outlet pass to Seguin. Bergeron couldn’t convert Seguin’s cross-ice feed, but a backchecking Andrei Markov accidentally kicked in the puck at 4:06.
Later in the second, Marchand whipped a shot on goal. The puck deflected off the stick of Tomas Plekanec and onto the blade of Dougie Hamilton. The rookie blasted a short-angle shot past Peter Budaj (31 saves) at 9:20 of the second, giving the Bruins a 3-2 lead.
Bergeron (goal, two assists) and Marchand (three assists) were on the ice for all of Boston’s goals.
“By far, they were our best line,” Julien said. “That was the unfortunate thing. We didn’t have enough of our other lines going.”
The No. 1 line of Lucic, Horton, and David Krejci flickered offensively. Lucic landed four shots, but Horton recorded only one, and Krejci none.
For most of this season, Krejci’s line had been the Bruins’ most consistent offensive threat. In the last four games, the top-liners have combined for three goals.
“You can’t win games, big games like that, relying on just that one line,” Julien said. “We need more out of the other lines. Tonight wasn’t the night where we got that. It’s a credit to them. I think Patrice had a great night, obviously Marshy with three assists, and I thought Tyler was skating well and competing well. That was a good line for us. Another line or two like that with that same work ethic, we would have been fine.”