MONTREAL – The Bruins went into Montreal with another chance to take over first place in the Northeast Division, and once again they came up just a little bit short.
Former Bruins forward Michael Ryder potted the game-winning goal and the Bruins couldn’t get a single shot on net in a 6-on-4 power play in the final minute of the third period in a 2-1 loss to the Habs at the Bell Centre.
The loss drops the Bruins to 1-4-1 in six games against the Canadiens and Penguins this season, and brings into question if Boston has enough to handle the cream of the Eastern Conference crop in the playoffs. Certainly the absence of Patrice Bergeron should be factored into Saturday night’s defeat, but the record is what it is.
The Habs were all over the Bruins while outshooting them 9-1 to start the game in the opening half of the first period, and they got on board with an Alex Galchenyuk strike in front of the net. A tough Matt Bartkowski shift led to a bad chip that was intercepted by Galchenyuk for a shot that missed its target, but the difficult sequence continued when the Montreal rookie fired a shot off Bartkowski with Tuukka Rask out of the play in the crease.
Montreal cashed in on a Milan Lucic cross-checking penalty at the start of the second period when a P.K. Subban point shot was tipped by Michael Ryder and then bounced off Dennis Seidenberg before landing past Rask in the back of the net.
The Bruins struck back in the second period with their own fortuitous bounce when Johnny Boychuk fired a shot off Daniel Paille’s chest that rocketed over Carey Price for a goal.
The game also featured a mixing and matching of the forward lines that left Jaromir Jagr skating with Paille and Gregory Campbell, and the 41-year-old didn’t factor much for better or worse in the contest.
GOLD STAR: Michael Ryder had four shots on net to share the lead for Montreal and notched the game-winning goal in the second period when he tipped a puck past Tuukka Rask after it bounced off Dennis Seidenberg. That’s 10 goals in 12 games for Ryder since he was traded back to the Canadiens from the Dallas Stars, and continues a masterful stretch of hockey for the former ex-Bruins sniper. It’s got to pain the Bruins that Montreal was able to beat them to getting Ryder in a trade when they were very clearly interested in their former forward back in February when he was available.
BLACK EYE: Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand finished without a single shot on net and were a combined minus-2 without Patrice Bergeron centering their line. Worse still, they were so bad in their own end giving up Montreal’s first goal and nearly caught on ice for another one that Claude Julien switched up the lines and put Rich Peverley in the middle between the two shifty wingers. It was a big moment for Seguin and Marchand to step up without Bergeron in the lineup, and neither of them did. Both players were also on ice in the final minute for the 6-on-4 power play where the team wasn’t able to get a single shot on net. It was a horrendous game for each of them.
TURNING POINT: The Bruins finally earned their first power play of the game within the final minute of the third period when Lars Eller was found guilty of a hold on Zdeno Chara in the corner. It looked like a sell job by Chara on the call, but it also got Boston one last attempt to tie things up. What happened next was probably the most disappointing power-play possession of the year: The Bruins didn’t fire even a single shot on net and Brad Marchand, among others, passed up a wide open shot on net with the seconds ticking down. It was the final disappointing chapter in a season series that’s seen the Bruins fall to 1-4-1 on the season against the Habs and Penguins – a sign that the Bruins are in the next rung down from those seasons on the Eastern Conference totem pole.
HONORABLE MENTION: Alex Galchenyuk could have had three goals before the first period was over, and he jump-started Montreal’s offense by intercepting a Matt Bartkowski chip. He kept working when that first shot went high and wide to the left, and eventually landed his fifth goal of the season after shooting a puck off Bartkowski guarding the front of the net with Tuukka Rask out of position. The puck trickled in and the Habs train was off and running. PK Subban also deserved plenty of plaudits for a pair of assists and a plus-1 in 25:03 of ice time.
BY THE NUMBERS: 1-4-1 – the Bruins record against the Montreal Canadiens and the Pittsburgh Penguins this season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “[Expletive] ice.” –David Krejci, when asked about the failure to get a shot on net in the final minute of the third period on the power play.