Haggerty: Bruins look to snap funk vs. Habs

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Haggerty: Bruins look to snap funk vs. Habs

WILMINGTON If anybody can bring the Boston Bruins out of their early-season funk its the arch-rival Montreal Canadiens.The flopping, condescending members of Habs nation drop into the Hub for a much anticipated home-and-home series with the Bruins, and that always brings the best out of a B's team that can fall asleep against lesser opponents. "I would hope that that would be the case. Certainly that's come to mind when I look at the schedule. We've got enough games that for whatever reason motivate us: I look at Toronto and you have the whole Kessel thing and what's gone down there and the Chicago they've won the cup before. We've had some good games when there's a reason to be motivated," said Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli. "I would hope that that would be the case against Montreal."They're rivals. We've had some real good games and series with them and all that history last year. There's always a reason to play well against Montreal. I would hope that that happens again in the next two games."Unfortunately the Habs are looking at the Black and Gold in exactly the same fashion as theyre sitting on a 2-5-2 record that got Montreal assistant coach Perry Pearn fired on Wednesday afternoon. Pearn was the power play architect for a Habs team that's one of the few in the NHL worse than the Bruins with a 4-for-37 start to the season, and he was shown the door after two years of PP struggles.Habs head coach Jacques Martin is on the hot seat as well in Montreal, and the firing of an assistant is clearly a shot across the Canadiens bow that things need to change or the entire coaching staff might be next. So the Habs are in just as bad a spot as the Bruins less than a month into the new hockey year.

Both teams are in desperate need for wins to help dust themselves off and get into the Northeast Division fray after a full month of hockey, and both teams havent come close to living up to their preseason billing. Nobody could have expected that the loser of the first HabsBruins match of the year will be residing in the Northeast Division basement, but that's simply the way it is while battling vastly improved teams like the Maple Leafs and Sabres.

Anybody who is in a position like they are or we are should be hungry, said Claude Julien. So I dont know why they should be any hungrier than we are. Were not doing that great ourselves.

Many of the players in the Boston dressing room are looking forward to squaring off against a Habs team everybody feels strongly about it, and it could be the same kind of good effort Boston was able to summon for common enemies like Tampa Bay, Chicago and Toronto already this season.

Except for Brad Marchand, that is.

I didnt know that we had a home and home . . . just kidding, said Marchand with mock seriousness about the Bruins-Habs rivalry that always draws mega media attention to the hockey games. Well see if something brews up in the first one and carries over into the second one.

By no means do we want to help their team out. Were not trying to get anybody fired or anything like that, but we want to make sure we do our best to get the wins while were totally focused on that.

Bs players like Zdeno Chara, Nathan Horton and Patrice Bergeron had some of their best moments against the Habs during the playoffs last season, and it could be the perfect spot for all three players to permanently dump the frustrated and hangover questions if they can simply beat down against the Canadiens.

But for Claude Julien the head-to-head grudge match against the Canadiens isnt about a rivalry that will solve his teams woes, or the spark needed to light Bostons fire for the rest of the year. Instead the Bruins coach saw a pair of ancient NHL rivals that will both be playing with great desperation given how each team badly needs a victory, and need to worry more about themselves than anything else.

Everybody seems to look at things in their own way. Its a great rivalry, but for me it only matters who comes out with the win, Julien said. We have to understand that we need to get ourselves winning on a more consistent basis, and its as simple as that."Two teams that hate each other starved for two points with back-to-back changes to land damaging punches against the other. That's actually about as compelling as it gets during the NHL regular season, and should be the perfect "next chapter" in the BruinsHabs rivalry that's as good as it ever was.

Capitals lose 3-goal lead, recover to beat Bruins in OT

Capitals lose 3-goal lead, recover to beat Bruins in OT

WASHINGTON -- The Capitals didn't exactly end their overtime victory with a raucous celebration.

No, instead Washington held a players-only meeting, still salty over blowing a three-goal lead.

Nicklas Backstrom scored 1:36 into overtime, helping the Capitals beat the Boston Bruins 4-3 to avert a disastrous defeat Wednesday night.

Justin Williams scored twice and Daniel Winnik also had a goal to put Washington ahead 3-0 about six minutes into the second period.

After Winnik's tally, Washington went over 26 minutes without a shot on goal. Boston dominated the final five minutes of the second period, when Dominic Moore and David Pastrnak beat goaltender Braden Holtby. Colin Miller's power-play score 8:19 into third tied it at 3-3.

Backstrom saved the day, but not the Capitals from feeling uneasy.

"In the second and third period they outplayed," Backstrom said. "We were lucky that we came up with two points. We're not satisfied at all. We're happy with the two points, but not the way we played."

The locker room remained closed for approximately 15 minutes after the win, Washington's second in a row after losing three straight.

"We had a little talking here," said T.J. Oshie, who returned to the lineup for the first time since injuring his shoulder on Nov. 18. "There are some things we've got to clean up. I think it's more of a mentality more than it is the systems or anything like that. ... Once we get a step up on someone, we have to get that mentality that we're going to finish them off."

Evgeny Kuznetsov had two assists for the Capitals and Alex Ovechkin got his first point since Nov. 26.

Boston arrived in Washington 4-0-1 over its last five games with three wins in a row, including a 4-3 overtime triumph against Florida on Monday night. The Bruins outshot Washington 34-20.

"Hell of an effort. We got a big point for us. To comeback from 3-0 against Washington, it's not that easy," Pastrnak said. "Too bad we couldn't get the two points, but in this case the one point is huge for us."

Backstrom patiently waited on the right side before firing the winner past goaltender Tuukka Rask, who entered second in the league with a 1.68 goals-against average. Rask allowed three goals in his previous outing, too.

Williams had two goals over the first 24 games this season, but he matched that total less than eight minutes in against the Bruins. He redirected Kuznetsov's lofted centering pass past Rask for a 1-0 lead just 23 seconds into the first period.

"To be honest it's nice to see the puck go in the net," Williams said. "I've been pressing and working hard. Hopefully this can springboard me to some more production."

Matt Niskanen left with an upper-body injury and did not return. With the Caps down a defenseman, Boston outshot Washington 11-2 in the second period.

"In the second period, we just sort of sat back," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "It's hard to protect leads in the league."

The Capitals' second goal also occurred in front of the net. Williams emerged from a scramble with a shot that slithered under Rask.

NOTES: With his 673rd career win, Trotz passed Mike Keenan (672) for eighth place on the NHL's career wins list. ... Williams' first goal was the fastest for Washington since 2012. ... Boston assigned F Noel Acciari to the Providence Bruins two days after the 24-year forward returned to practice. Acciari injured his right leg on Nov. 7. ... Holtby improved to 10-2 career against the Bruins. His first career win came in relief against Boston in November 2010. ... The three-game season series resumes Feb. 1 in Washington.

UP NEXT

Bruins: Host Colorado on Thursday night.

Capitals: Play at Buffalo on Friday night.