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A fast start helps the cause

Montreal’s James Wisniewski tries to draw a penalty in the first period on the Bruins’ Zdeno Chara, to no avail. Montreal’s James Wisniewski tries to draw a penalty in the first period on the Bruins’ Zdeno Chara, to no avail. (Jim Davis/ Globe Staff)
By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / April 19, 2011

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MONTREAL — Entering last night, the Bruins knew what they needed to do. Score first.

In the first two setbacks at TD Garden, the Bruins had allowed the Canadiens two early let-’em-in goals. In Game 1, a bad Tomas Kaberle reverse led to a Brian Gionta goal at 2:44 of the first.

In Game 2, a Johnny Boychuk giveaway let Mike Cammalleri score, this time just 43 seconds into the night. The Bruins chased both games with zero results.

Last night, they executed the most important part of their game plan. Just 3:11 into the game, David Krejci buried a Patrice Bergeron setup to give his team its first lead of the series.

“We had a better start,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “The early goals certainly helped. We had a better start than the last two games in Boston. We didn’t have a good start and they scored early. We know how they play when they score early. They really get into that defensive shell and they make you work hard to get back in the game.

“Maybe [the Bruins] playing with the lead got [the Canadiens] out of their comfort zone a little bit. I think it was important to have a good start. We did that. We scored some early goals, which helped the confidence. I thought our guys were ready to play tonight. They weren’t as tense as they were the first two games at home. That really helped us well. That gave us more energy.’’

In Games 1 and 2, the Bruins were shell-shocked after the early goals. Mentally, they couldn’t recover from either strike.

But more importantly, Montreal’s quick goals gave the Canadiens the green light to execute coach Jacques Martin’s game plan. With the lead in their pockets, the Canadiens played pack-it-in hockey, blocking shots and relying on Carey Price to make timely saves.

Last night, once the Bruins grabbed the lead, the Canadiens couldn’t revert to their usual style. They blocked only 17 shots, their lowest tally so far. In turn, the Bruins had more confidence and more room to do their stuff.

“I thought we had a pretty good start,’’ said Rich Peverley. “Big goal by Krejci there. Great play by Bergeron. I think it was a great start for us. We played a lot in their zone in the first period. I think that was our goal.’’

Seguin on sideline
The Bruins entered last night averaging 0.5 goals per game. But even with his team’s offense dormant, Julien wasn’t ready to tab Tyler Seguin, a healthy scratch in the first two games.

Last night, Seguin was in suit and tie for the third straight game.

“I’ll do what I can do and be ready in case I get the call,’’ Seguin said after the morning skate.

Julien would not discuss any lineup issues before the game. That goes counter to Peter Laviolette, the Philadelphia coach whom Julien cited Sunday when saying he would not talk about his goalies, injuries, or lineup. Laviolette announced yesterday morning that Brian Boucher would start in net for the Flyers last night.

“I think I have the option on which page I’d like to take out of Peter Laviolette’s book,’’ Julien said with a smile. “I like the page from the other day. I didn’t like this morning’s page.’’

Even at 19 years old, Seguin has the team’s best set of hands and wheels. In theory, his speed could push back the Montreal defensemen and create gaps in their defensive formation.

But Seguin has given the coaching staff little confidence that he has the high battle level and decision-making abilities required in the playoffs.

Kostitsyn back in
Andrei Kostitsyn, knocked out of Game 2 because of a foot injury, returned to the lineup last night. Kostitsyn skated in his usual spot on the No. 1 line alongside Cammalleri and Tomas Plekanec. Kostitsyn scored Montreal’s first goal in the second period. It was one of five pucks Kostitsyn landed on goal.

Kostitsyn was hobbled early in Game 1 after Zdeno Chara rocked a slap shot off his foot.

“He’s the kind of guy who can be a game-breaker,’’ Cammalleri said. “He’s that kind of a player.’’

Road trip
After last night’s game, the Bruins bolted for Lake Placid, N.Y., which they will use as base camp today and tomorrow for practice. Both practices are closed to the public. They’ll return to Montreal tomorrow before Thursday’s Game 4. Players who skated last night will not take the ice today. “We’ve got a couple days before the next game,’’ Julien said. “We’ve certainly got to keep working on our game a little bit. Hopefully get a little rest and sharpen up in those areas that we think we need to sharpen up in. Come back here and be ready for Game 4.’’ . . . The Bruins were 0 for 4 on the power play and have yet to score on the man-advantage in the series. As frustrating as their lack of power-play production has been, they were pleased with their penalty kill last night (5 for 5). They allowed only three shots over the power plays. “Our penalty kill’s been really, really good throughout the series,’’ Julien said. “The [power-play] goal they scored the other night was of our own doing. Our guys have done a pretty good job of winning battles, taking away space, not letting them skate into our end too easily.’’ . . . Andrew Ference threw down with Benoit Pouliot in the second. Pouliot had been whistled for charging on Johnny Boychuk, which brought Ference calling.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com.

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