BOSTON – After playing with a lead for less than 12 minutes of ice time after the first four games of their playoff series with the Montreal Canadiens, the Bruins finally played with a lead in their 4-2 win over the Habs in Game 5 at TD Garden. They scored the game’s first goal at the 13:20 mark of the first period – only their second first period score in the entire five game series thus far – and never looked back after tripling the lead with two power play goals in the opening minutes of the second period.
The Bruins often knowingly describe themselves as frontrunners in the best sense of the word, and they were exactly that on Saturday for the first time in the series. It was certainly a nice change of pace for Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask, who was fresh off a nail-biter special in his Game 4 shutout.
“We’re a pretty good team when we have the lead. If it’s a three goal lead or two goal lead we try to play the same way. I think today was a pretty good example of that,” said Tuukka Rask. “We never sat back we just kept going and playing our system. It gives you that little bit of breathing room when you have a lead, for sure.”
Clearly the two power play goals in 32 seconds from Reilly Smith and Jarome Iginla really got the ball rolling for the Black and Gold.
The early lead allows the Bruins to tap into their physical style and really force the opposition to chase them, and that was a pair of traits that came through in Game 5 for both the B’s and the Habs. Montreal crept back into things with a Brenden Gallagher goal in the last few minutes of the second period, but Boston had piled up enough of a lead to hold the Habs off.
“We are pretty good team to play with the lead, and they are too. So I think in four of five games, the first goal scorers have won the game,” said Carl Soderberg. “It’s always important, especially in the second and third.”
Clearly it’s important to finish things off even after building up a commanding three goal lead, and the Bruins definitely did see their intensity wane late in the second period when the Habs got one of the goals back. But a strong opening period coupled with the best third period numbers in the NHL make the B’s a formidable opponent whenever they scratch for a couple of goals early.