MONTREAL –- The starts have dictated the endings.
In each second-round playoff game between the Bruins and Canadiens, the team that has come out strong and scored first has won. Truth held again in Game 6.
A rattled Bruins bunch gave the first goal to Montreal in the opening minutes of the first period amid a throng of loud, intimidating Habs fans waving white towels and dropped a 4-0 decision to the Canadiens at the Bell Centre.
The loss dropped the Bruins to 0-5 in Game 6 road games with a chance to close out a playoff series under Claude Julien. Luckily for the Bruins they are 3-1 in their last four Game 7 situations on home ice.
It started ugly early in the first period as Kevan Miller choked on a puck behind the Boston net, and kicked it right to Lars Eller in front with Tuukka Rask well out of position. Eller buried it and the Canadiens were off and running.
The Bruins started to carve out some momentum as Rask was brilliant for the rest of the first period on a series of golden chances for Montreal, and it appeared that some long shifts in the second period might bear fruit for the Black and Gold.
But Milan Lucic missed on an empty net rebound attempt and minutes later Max Pacioretty scored on a partial breakaway at the other end of the ice. It was a either a stretch pass or clearing attempt from Nathan Beaulieu that Pacioretty received, and the Habs forward sped past Zdeno Chara for the goal.
Thomas Vanek scored a power play goal two minutes later, and the Montreal fans were about ready to blow the roof off the Bell Centre while pushing a decisive Game 7 at TD Garden on Wednesday night.
The Bruins missed another opportunity late in the third period when a Chara shot deflected high off of Carey Price and almost landed in the back of the net. After review, it was clear that the puck never crossed the goal line before David Desharnais swiped it out of the goal mouth.
Vanek scored his second goal of the night with just under four minutes left in the game, soon after the Bruins pulled Rask for an extra skater.
GOLD STAR: Max Pacioretty hadn’t scored a goal in the entire series, and he had admitted that Zdeno Chara was in his head prior to Game 5, but that all changed in Game 6 at the Bell Centre. It wasn’t the game-winning goal, but Pacioretty scored the backbreaking goal in the second period after the Bruins had pushed to potentially even up a 1-0 score on a partial breakaway. Pacioretty got behind the Bruins defense, including Chara, and received a Nathan Beaulieu stretch pass before he executed a perfect five-hole goal on Tuukka Rask. Chara never played the body and then Rask gave Pacioretty the five hole to shoot for -- a combination of bad things that gave the Bruins a ticket straight to Game 7 on Wednesday night.
BLACK EYE: Kevan Miller has now twice made big errors in the opening minutes of a first period against the Habs in playoffs games at the Bell Centre that really put the Bruins in a hole. He lost track of Tomas Plekanec in Game 3 on the backdoor that turned into Montreal’s first goal. In Game 6 he fumbled a puck behind the net that turned into a Lars Eller goal after the B’s couldn’t convert on a 2-on-1 at the opening of the game. Miller and Torey Krug continued to play like rattled young defensemen for the rest of the first period before things settled down, but it was too late by then. Miller didn’t make these mistakes during the regular season, but they’re coming now under the pressure.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins dominated for long stretches of the second period, and had a couple of really long shifts from the Soderberg line and Krejci line while putting pressure on the Montreal defense. Unfortunately Milan Lucic missed an empty net chance in the middle of those long possessions that could have tied up the game, and minutes later Max Pacioretty got behind the Boston defense for a backbreaking partial breakaway goal. That was the game for a Bruins team that couldn’t slow down the speed of the Habs in this one.
HONORABLE MENTION: Thomas Vanek scored the final two goals after all the real damage had been done by Lars Eller and Max Pacioretty, but he put the finishing moves on the Black and Gold in Game 6. It’s amazing that Pacioretty has scored as many goals (four) in this series as any member of the Bruins and hasn’t really shown up at all during five-on-five play. Vanek finished with five attempted shots in 14:07 of ice time, and teamed with Pacioretty to show up and doom the Bruins in a nightmarish game at the Bell Centre.
BY THE NUMBERS: 3-1 – That's the record under Claude Julien for the Bruins in Game 7 scenarios after blowing a Game 6 attempt to close out a team on the road. They last did it against Montreal last season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was a bouncing puck, but it’s one that you bury nine out of ten times. I just have to make sure I bury it the next time.” – Milan Lucic, full of some regret after missing second period open net.