Point taken by Bruins
Lone shootout goal by Seguin defeats Canadiens
MONTREAL - When the smoke cleared, the high sticks were lowered, and the cheap shots came to a grinding halt, the Bruins departed the Bell Centre last night with a 4-3 win over the Canadiens, Tyler Seguin with the lone strike in the ever-anticlimactic shootout.
The win, only Boston’s fourth in the last nine games, came after the Bruins frittered away a 3-1 lead in the third period. Even with that 20-minute lapse, in which Max Pacioretty and Erik Cole cobbled together the equalizers, it was one of the Bruins’ better performances in the last three weeks. With their 35th win in the bank, it stood as a positive if imperfect start to a six-game trip that continues tomorrow night in Winnipeg.
After scoring but one even-strength goal in the previous three games, the Bruins scored twice (Andrew Ference, Benoit Pouliot) with the sides even and then again on a power play (Patrice Bergeron). Tim Thomas, who has allowed three goals in each of three straight starts, finished with 26 saves, then turned away Rene Bourque, Pacioretty, and Lars Eller in the shootout.
The Bruins lost Rich Peverley in the third period, the result of a knee-on-knee hit from Hal Gill. Coach Claude Julien said the club will find out more today, but otherwise offered no details as to the nature of the injury or the extent of the damage.
All in all, it was a grinding, chippy, fast-paced 65 minutes, with the Bruins fortunate not to have lost their captain, Zdeno Chara, to what could have been a serious injury at the end of the first period. While working the right point on a power play, Big Z was nailed in the chin by a Tomas Plekanec clearing attempt, the Trencin Tower of Power dropping face-first in a heap just outside the blue line.
Adding to the ugliness, with Chara eventually straightening up from a small pool of blood on the ice, many in the sellout crowd of 21,273 cheered the sight of Chara prostrate on the ice. The sad lack of sportsmanship was in sharp contrast to Plekanec, who as the period ended briefly came up to Chara, making certain that the former Norris Trophy winner was OK.
“A real nice gesture,’’ Chara said of Plekanec.
According to Chara, he needed stitches to close the gash but did not know the count.
“It took me a couple of seconds to get myself together,’’ he said. “I feel it could have been worse, it could have been better.’’
And as for the crowd’s cheering over his injury, Chara added, “I was disappointed by the reaction . . . it’s something that I cannot understand.’’
The chippiness was evident from the drop of the puck, both clubs dishing out nasty hits and carrying sticks high. The Canadiens have but a slight chance to make the playoffs, while their old rivals from the south, the defending Cup champs, needed to put together a strong three periods to get their game back on track.
“We found a way to win,’’ said Julien, pleased with his club’s play without the puck, a sore spot of late. “It wasn’t easy. We’ve got a lot of guys who are stitched after this one, banged up. Sometimes that’s what you need to get out of a bad situation . . . it’s the price you have to pay.’’
After taking a 1-0 lead in the first on Ference’s goal, his fifth, the Bruins were back even when Mathieu Darche connected on a shorthander 99 seconds into the second. But in a span of less than 10 minutes, Pouliot and Bergeron connected for the 3-1 lead, with Pouliot’s strike the most dazzling of the night. Sprung at the blue line by a Chris Kelly feed, the ex-Habs winger barreled in, turned defenseman Chris Campoli inside-out, and roofed a 15-footer by a stunned Carey Price.
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to go around him or make that move,’’ said Pouliot. “It worked out. I had speed on the wing and cut to the middle, and Kells gave me a great pass.’’
Bergeron made a nice snipe too, collecting a Seguin feed on the goal line to Price’s right, and then closing to the left post. With Price dipping to go paddle-down in the crease, Bergeron made a John Bucyk-like top shelf move, dotting the puck by Price on the short side and denting the top right corner.
“He’d been going paddle-down pretty often,’’ said Bergeron. “So I was trying to get the angle there as I got closer, and I think I sort of surprised him by shooting instead of making a pass out front.’’
But then came the third period and the Habs began flying, drawing the crowd back into the game much as their Flying Frenchmen forefathers once did.
Pacioretty cut it to 3-2 with 3:34 gone in the period, connecting with a slot shot that Thomas initially stopped, only to have the puck bleed through his pads and trickle over the line. Cole then struck for the equalizer at 11:12, handed a gift by a rare Chara misplay low in the zone after Brad Marchand fed the puck back to him. Chara was looking to dish right to partner Johnny Boychuk, but instead put it right on Cole’s stick. The ex-Hurricane waltzed in and finished on the near side with a backhand snap.
“I don’t know if I heeled it or it got stuck in the snow or what,’’ said Chara. “That’s something that doesn’t happen. And it happened at the wrong time. It happened at a crucial time and I felt bad about it.’’
Price was especially sharp in overtime, the Bruins outshooting the Habs, 7-3. And it was Seguin, shooting second after David Krejci failed, who connected with a forehand pot inside the left post.
“Same as last time,’’ said Seguin, who scored the shootout winner vs. Nashville last Saturday. “I changed speeds [on the approach] and got the shot off. One of those nights . . . we found a way.’’
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at email@example.com.