Bruins rout Canadiens, take 2-0 series lead
Montreal looks to answer at home
At 10:03 of the third period, plunked by the left fist of Patrice Bergeron to the side of his chin, Montreal defenseman Josh Gorges went down to the ice.
"I guess I discovered he's a lefty," deadpanned Bruins coach Claude Julien. "I think he discovered he was a lefty. It was one of those things where [Bergeron] got enticed. He got hit in the head to start with by Gorges. He was challenged. He did what he had to do."
Gorges, who first drew the ire of Bergeron in their last regular-season meeting (he dumped the center from behind after a goal), hit the literal deck. But the Montreal defenseman had a whole team of followers. With a flammable display of skating, skill, and physical play, the Bruins brought the Canadiens to their knees and drop-kicked their rivals out of TD Banknorth Garden with a 5-1 thumping before 17,565 fans to grab a 2-0 lead in the first-round series.
It just so happened that perhaps Boston's most peaceful player (16 penalty minutes in 64 regular-season games) provided the biggest smackdown so far.
"Patrick Cleary, eh? Crazy Irishman," said pugilist Shawn Thornton, referring to the last name of Bergeron's father, Gerard. "Good lefty. Straight lefts. Pretty impressive. I didn't doubt him for a second."
The Bruins opened the game with a Marc Savard power-play goal. They added two more man-advantage strikes in the second period, with the final being a drop-dead-gorgeous strike by ex-Canadien Michael Ryder, getting sweet justice on the team that let him walk last summer.
Up, 4-1, in the second period, Ryder stamped the exclamation mark on the victory by scoring with only 2.3 ticks remaining before intermission. Tim Thomas triggered the play with a long-distance pass to Savard, who slipped the puck to Ryder in stride. The wing flashed into the offensive zone, loaded his stick, shot across his body, and picked the top corner over the glove of Carey Price.
It was the last puck the starting goalie would see, as relief netminder Jaroslav Halak took over in the third period.
The Bruins will swagger into the Bell Centre for tomorrow's Game 3 having shattered the Canadiens' confidence. They swarmed the Canadiens and won puck battles all over the rink. They laid out some heavy hits, as Bergeron set the tone early with a thudding open-ice check on winger Alex Kovalev. They had the Montreal defensemen on their heels when they barreled into the offensive zone.
Their hard work showed up on the scoreboard.
In the first period, Chuck Kobasew doubled Boston's lead by driving to the net, shaking off the backcheck of captain Saku Koivu and poking home the rebound of Mark Recchi's shot from the point. At the same time, Bergeron was involved in the dirty work by occupying net-front real estate and drawing the attention of the hated Mike Komisarek, who might have been able to clear Recchi's rebound if he wasn't engaged with the Boston center.
For several moments, Kovalev quieted the rowdy crowd when he slipped a wrist shot through a Zdeno Chara screen that eluded Thomas (30 saves) at 46 seconds of the second period. But Shane Hnidy, replacing Matt Hunwick, made it 3-1 when he fired a wrister past Price at 5:45.
Less than a minute later, Dennis Wideman triggered an odd-man rush by picking off a pass and springing Milan Lucic. Wideman jumped in the play and was hooked down by Glen Metropolit, drawing a penalty on the former Bruin. On the ensuing power play, while Ryder stickhandled on the left side, Chara drove to the net and brought Komisarek and fellow penalty killer Tom Kostopoulos with him. With Chara plowing the snow and creating a fat seam, Ryder spotted Savard at the other side of the ice. Savard took Ryder's pass and fired the puck home.
Then at the end of the second, Savard (two goals, two assists) set up Ryder for his Price-chasing goal.
Perhaps the only sour point for the Bruins took place at 15:28 of the third period. Lucic was high-sticked by defenseman Mathieu Schneider, then was approached by agitator Maxim Lapierre. Lucic responded by getting his stick and mitts high in Lapierre's face. Lucic was sent off for a five-minute high-sticking major, while Lapierre was tagged with a 10-minute misconduct. Lucic could be facing further discipline.
"He might have lost his composure a little bit in that area," Julien said of Lucic. "But you have to remember that he got elbowed in the head, then high-sticked by Schneider.
"Then Lapierre comes in - Lapierre who's been an instigator throughout the whole series, and even during the regular season - and what Looch did was react at him coming at him. It wasn't premeditated. In reviewing it, he hit him with his glove. He had his stick in his hands, but his glove hit his helmet. Had his stick hit him in the head, I think Lapierre would have been down. But Lapierre stayed up and kept going at Looch. If there's one thing, I know it certainly wasn't premeditated."