The sweet sounds of serenade
"Hockey Night in Canada," eh?
Looked more like "Crying Time in Quebec."
Striking fast and striking with authority, the Bruins moved to a 2-0 series advantage over Montreal last night with a 5-1 abuse of the Canadiens. Or, should I say, the "hated" Canadiens?
The sold-out Garden crowd of 17,565 was in vintage playoff form, waving their yellow towels, starting right in with a hearty "Let's Go Bruins!" as soon as the puck was dropped, and, of course, serenading the Montreal goalkeeper with "Ca-rey! Ca-rey! Ca-rey!" following each Bruins goal.
A word of caution, please: 2-0 is nice, but it is not a death sentence. This is no time to get cocky.
The flip side is that this is a 1-vs.-8 matchup and all the indicators point to a Boston victory. There is no reason to think otherwise after watching this one.
This was a beatdown of the highest order, with the Bruins doing all the things, big and little, that win hockey games - especially playoff games.
"We were very disciplined tonight," said Marc Savard, who had two goals and two assists. "We won the loose-puck battles, and we moved the puck around very well on the power play."
The Bruins had the jump, as they like to say in the college game, from the start. Phil Kessel had a couple of pretty good chances before the game was seven minutes old, and you had the feeling it was just a matter of time before the Bruins would score.
The ice-breaker was a power-play goal by Savard at 9:59, with Sergei Kostitsyn off for hooking, a common Canadien infraction on a night when Les Habs spent far too much time reacting to the Bruins, rather than initiating any positive action themselves. The sequence began with Steve Montador winning a battle on the boards and it concluded with Savard flicking a nice wrister from straightaway past Carey Price. That was the first of many occasions when the thoughtful Boston fans made sure the young Montreal goalkeeper would not forget his first name.
Ex-BC Eagle Chuck Kobasew got the joint jumpin' anew with a rebound goal at 15:12, the first period ending with Kessel in the locker room after being assessed a rare roughing penalty, the result of a scuffle with Tom Kostopoulos. When Kessel gets physical (sort of), you know the Bruins have come to play. Guess he won't have to worry about being a healthy scratch this year.
Speaking of unlikely occurrences, the patrons had better save their ticket stubs because they were witness to a certified first: a five-minute fighting major for - you'd better make sure you're sitting down - Patrice Bergeron.
The gentlemanly center had to avenge his honor after Montreal defenseman Josh Gorges got a bit too fresh, landing an uncalled-for, and un-called, period, fist to Bergeron's jaw during the third-period equivalent of hockey garbage time. Well! Off came the gloves, and out came the fists, and Bergeron demonstrated a bit of fistic skill, landing some solid shots while earning the approval on all the judges' cards.
"I didn't think much," said Bergeron, who did, in fact, have a fight in the AHL. "I didn't know what I was doing out there."
By the time that confrontation took place, all the good hockey had already been played, most notably in the second period, when the Bruins took control.
There was one brief period when there actually was a game. It looked as if the score would go up to 3-0 early in the second, when Zdeno Chara came swooping in on the goal, only to be thwarted by a nice Price save. As so often happens, the Canadiens capitalized on the subsequent possession when the ever-dangerous Alex Kovalev sneaked one past Tim Thomas to make it 2-1.
Predictably, the visitors were now full of vim, vigor, and purpose, carrying the action to the Bruins for the next four minutes or so before Shane Hnidy beat Price on what, frankly, looked like a stoppable shot. That was at 5:45. Less than three minutes later, with Glen Metropolit off for hooking, Savard scored his second goal on a beautiful collaboration with Michael Ryder and Dennis Wideman. You couldn't ask for more precision passing on a power play.
The building was now reverberating with the "Ca-rey!" chant.
The power play was a major factor all night long. The Bruins went 3 for 5, while the Canadiens were 0 for 1. And so it was fitting that the goal that ended the night's competition was a third power-play goal, and a particularly back-breaking one, at that. With Kovalev out for yet another frustration hooking penalty, Ryder rifled one over Price's left shoulder with 2.3 seconds remaining in the second period to make it 5-1.
When the third period began, Price was on the bench and Jaroslav Halak was in the net.
"We needed to regroup in the third period," said Canadiens coach Bob Gainey, "not to score five goals and win the game, but putting another goalie in at that point helps settle things down."
If there is to be a different outcome tomorrow, the Canadiens will have to stop being coconspirators in their own demise.
"We're going to have to play better, and part of that is to play smarter," confirmed Gainey. "We had hooking and slashing penalties, and it seemed to me they were legitimate calls. We have enough problems with our opponents. We can't take penalties, or stray from our plan."
The Bruins have done what they needed to do here. Now comes the fun part, a trip across the border to a city where many a Bruins team has wound up weeping.
"They're going to come back and they're going to come back hard," warned Bergeron. "They'll be ready for us."
Just remember: 2-0 is 2-0. It's half the job. There's still a lot more hockey to be played in this series. But this is a tape a good Bruins fan in need of a hockey fix would like to pull off the shelf on some hot July night.