MONTREAL - The last few days, Claude Julien has been careful not to raise his voice, which had been slightly silenced because of a bronchial infection.
But in the third period of last night's 7-4 beating at the hands of the Canadiens before 21,273 at the Bell Centre, Julien let his vocal cords loose, aiming his full-throated vitriol at Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau and assistant coach Kirk Muller.
Carbonneau and Muller, whose boys were laying it on thick to the Bruins (6-3 at the time), took exception to Mark Stuart's one-sided beatdown of skilled winger Andrei Kostitsyn at 11:05.
At first glance, Carbonneau appeared to have a gripe. Kostitsyn (one goal on four shots last night) had never fought as an NHLer. But what Carbonneau and the Canadiens didn't see was that Kostitsyn had speared Stuart from behind, prompting the Boston defenseman to take care of business.
"Somehow, they seemed to be accusing me of sending somebody to do something," said Julien, who gave it right back to the Montreal bench during the foul-mouthed exchange. "It's certainly not my style. Never done it in my life. Kostitsyn spears Stuart. I know Kostitsyn's not a fighter, but I didn't stand up on the bench and accuse Carbonneau of sending [defenseman Francis] Bouillon out there to elbow [Aaron] Ward. It's just a matter of, 'You take care of your business and we'll take care of our own.' "
In the game's final minute, Montreal forward Tom Kostopoulos hunted down Stuart, hitting the defenseman with a cross-check that sparked another fight. Kostopoulos was whistled for instigating, fighting, and a 10-minute misconduct and will be suspended for one game because he picked a scrap in the final minute.
Stuart wasn't the only Bruin to drop his gloves. Andrew Alberts traded punches with Kostopoulos at 10:13 of the third period, and Zdeno Chara (elbowing, fighting, instigating, 10-minute misconduct) drew 19 penalty minutes after throwing a high hit on forward Alexei Kovalev and dropping forward Guillaume Latendresse in a subsequent fight.
And given how the Bruins played, it wasn't surprising that emotions boiled over.
"We were turning pucks over," said Dennis Wideman, who saw the Canadiens wing 52 shots on Tim Thomas. "We were making plays we shouldn't have been making. The D were making bad passes. We were just making bad decisions. Bad decisions all night. Lot of bad decisions.
"We were running up the ice, not supporting each other, and we played right into their hands. We'd turn it over at the red line or at our blue line and played right into their hands with their speed game."
Perhaps the lone highlight was the breakout of Pluto-cold Glen Murray, who hadn't scored in 13 games. Murray snapped his skid with a wrister between the pads of goalie Carey Price in the first period that made it a 1-1 game, then tacked on his second strike with a cannon of a one-timer at 11:07 of the third.
Murray, who had gone scoreless on 27 shots in the 13 previous games, led the Bruins with five attempts.
"I think we were all just frustrated with the game we had," Murray said. "When you have four or five huge mistakes in a game, you're not going to win many games."
Consider some of the ugly events:
A rough night for a helter-skelter Thomas, who was making his 10th straight start and might have been showing the physical and mental strain of the heavy workload.
"That's probably the biggest thing that concerns us right now," Julien said. "Our heads just weren't in it tonight. I thought we gave them almost everything they had tonight. Just poor decision-making. We iced the puck twice on a four-on-four. Somehow we just didn't seem sharp. As a coach, you kind of wonder what happened."