BOSTON -- Dougie Hamilton had already been introduced to the Bruins' rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens. In the two previous games against the Habs this season, the rookie defenseman scored a goal and was a plus-1.
Wednesday night was his third go-around. And took it upon himself to -- once again -- give the Bruins an offensive spark in one of the biggest games of the year as the teams battled for first place in the division.
On March 3 at TD Garden, Hamilton scored in the second period to give the Bruins a 3-2 lead, a big goal at the time. The reason for the "at the time" qualifier: The Canadiens scored twice in the third period to defeat the Bruins, 4-3.
On Wednesday, Hamilton scored another of those "at the time" big goals.
The Canadiens had just increased their lead to 2-0 when P.K. Subban blasted a shot from the right point that went off the left post and in, just 2:53 into the second period. The goal silenced the TD Garden, and then saw a somewhat over-the-top celebration, as Subban turned out to the neutral zone and gave a dramatic pump on one knee.
Just 39 seconds later, however, Hamilton found the back of the net on a wrister from the high slot, cutting Montreal's lead to 2-1.
"I saw [Montreal goalie Carey] Price down, and I knew I could get it if I put it top-right," said Hamilton after the game. "I kind of put it top-middle, but it still went in. I knew he was down and kind of out. I looked up right when I got the puck, and just tried to get it up as quick as I could."
The goal finished a relentless and somewhat desperate Bruins pursuit, after Tyler Seguin rang the right post and Patrice Bergeron missed an open net on an ensuing rebound. Following Bergeron's miss, Seguin scooped up the loose puck behind the net and found Hamilton creeping into the high slot.
Hamilton wasted no time, and put it upstairs, admitting that he was thinking "shoot" the whole time.
"I saw some open ice in the slot, and saw Seguin coming around the net, and just kind of tried to get open there," said Hamilton. "I got the pass, and looked up. I knew Price was down, but I looked up, and he was still kind of down, so I just tried to get it up."
Hamilton wasn't done. Not only did he match Subban's goal. But he also matched his postgoal emotion.
After he scored, the Bruins' young defenseman turned, took a few strides into the neutral zone, and unleashed a passionate pump of his own.
"Playing at home, I think anything you can do to get some momentum and get the crowd going a little bit," said Hamilton. "I don't know really why I did that. I think, to be honest, I was watching [Alex] Ovechkin in a video of him in his first couple years. And that's probably where that celebration came from. It would have been a lot better if we won. But I think I just tried to get some momentum going."
Hamilton indeed was the guy who got the Bruins' momentum going, as the B's went on to rattle off three more second-period goals and entered the third period with a 4-2 lead.
But just like the previous game against Montreal, Hamilton's goal was big "at the time" because the Bruins blew a third-period lead and lost in a shootout.
Up until then, Hamilton stepped up and took charge, offensively, in the biggest NHL game of his young career.
"That was a pretty exciting game," said Hamilton. "Probably one of the most fun games I've played in the NHL, until eight seconds left. I thought it was a really good atmosphere. It would have been nice to get the win though."
At least the Bruins know Hamilton isn't phased by the intensity of their rivalry with the Canadiens.