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Montreal gets boxed in by too many penalties

By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / April 19, 2009
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There was nothing left for the Montreal Canadiens to do but throw punches. They struggled for goals, while the Bruins scored more than their share.

So in the third period, it was no surprise to see a couple of tussles. No eyes were harmed this time around, as Matt Hunwick's was at the end of Game 1, but the result for the Canadiens was the same. The Bruins won, 5-1, capturing Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series last night at TD Banknorth Garden.

Montreal goaltender Carey Price faced 26 shots in two periods and was burdened with all five goals. With each goal, most of the 17,565 in attendance taunted Price by chanting "Ca-rey" over and over. When the third period began, Jaroslav Halak stepped in and stopped all five shots he faced. By then, all the Bruins needed to do was watch the minutes tick off the clock.

"We lost because we weren't good enough as a group," said Canadiens defenseman Mike Komisarek. "Carey likes to put a lot of responsibility on his shoulders, but it's not just one guy. It's not his fault. You can't put the finger on one guy. We have to bounce back and regroup."

Winger Christopher Higgins added, "It's an insult to us to have your goalie pulled."

When asked if Price would start Game 3 tomorrow night in Montreal, Canadiens coach Bob Gainey said, "I don't know."

A win last night would have evened the series and given the Canadiens momentum heading to the Bell Centre. Instead, Montreal faces a must-win situation. The Bruins are 24-6 in series in which they go up, 2-0.

Of course, those statistics mean nothing to those who cherish the Canadiens' comeback against the Bruins in the 2004 playoffs. As the No. 7 seed, Montreal, led by current Bruins coach Claude Julien, erased a 3-1 deficit in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals and captured the series in seven games.

Re-creating that result will be a challenge for a team that lost the regular-season series to the Bruins, 5-0-1. Three of those games needed extra time to determine a winner, but in the first two games of this series, the Bruins have dominated.

The Bruins have scored nine goals in two games, four on the power play.

In Game 3, Gainey said his team will have to be smarter about taking penalties.

"The penalties, to me, seem to be legitimate calls by the referees, and we have enough to handle in our opponent than to injure ourselves by taking penalties or straying away from the plan that we have in place," Gainey said.

Montreal's only goal last night came at an ideal time to get back in the game. Trailing, 2-0, the Canadiens struck 46 seconds into the second when Alex Kovalev scored off an assist from Saku Koivu. But five minutes later, Shane Hnidy gave the Bruins a 3-1 lead. Two power-play goals put the Bruins up, 5-1, entering the third.

Former Canadien Michael Ryder, who was a healthy scratch for Games 6 and 7 against the Bruins last postseason, had a goal and an assist against his old team, adding to the assist he collected in Boston's 4-2 victory in Game 1.

After two disappointing results, the Canadiens can't wait to get home.

"It doesn't matter what's going on here the first two games," Komisarek said. "We're looking forward to coming back home and playing in front of our fans."

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