Bruins Come Back To Beat Habs, 2-1, Behind Rask, Seguin

Tyler Seguin celebrates after scoring the tying goal in the third period of Boston's comeback win over Montreal.

Tyler Seguin celebrates after scoring the tying goal in the third period of Boston’s comeback win over Montreal.

For the 718th time in the last 88 years, the Boston Bruins faced off against the Montreal Canadiens last night at the Bell Centre. In the latest addition of the NHL’s most storied rivalry, two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference were at their best, but it was the Bruins that would prevail, 2-1, behind two third-period goals in a game that was very calm for a meeting between these two heated rivals.

It was a two-minute span at the start of the third that saw the Bruins score twice and that was the difference in the game. Through the first two, Montreal was outplaying its rivals from south of the border and held a 1-0 lead thanks to P.K. Subban‘s first of the year until Tyler Seguin knotted things up 14 seconds into the final frame off of a centering feed from David Krejci and the B’s looked like a different team when they came out of the dressing room.

A minute and 49 seconds later, Milan Lucic this time fed it in front and Krejci tipped it in under the pads of Carey Price. Just like that the tide had turned and the Bruins found themselves out in front for good in this battle of two well-rested teams.

“The message was clear across the room that the first two periods we weren’t playing like it was a division, first-place game,” said Seguin after the game. “Luckily Tuukks was holding us in there, keeping it a close game and everyone was happy with the show of character in the third.”

Tuukka Rask did indeed do his part, making 20 total saves on 21 shots, including 11 in the first period when Montreal out-shot Boston, 11-4, and he really kept the Bruins in it in the first when he faced some very tough pressure from the Canadiens offense. Their offense came out firing as Rask had to make a few acrobatic saves in the early going and Boston didn’t even register a shot on goal until Gregory Campbell, who played well moving up to the second line in the absence of Brad Marchand, fired one in at the 11:23 mark of the first period.

Boston has now won five straight against their rivals, who finished last in the Eastern Conference a year ago. Each of the wins have come by just one goal. The Habs’ 12 points through nine games played in 2013 have them sitting in the sixth spot in the East this season, however. The B’s jumped back into first place in the Eastern Conference with their 14th and 15th points and hold a one-point lead over the Penguins.

Price fell to 6-2 on the young season and 15-8-3 in his career against Boston. Rask earned just the second win of his career against the Canadiens in nine chances (2-6-1). He had lost five consecutive starts to Montreal.

The early pressure put forth by the Canadiens, including a couple two-on-ones, a hit post and a breakaway by Lars Eller in the first period, did not result in anything. Boston’s poor power-play did nothing to help them out as they could get nothing going with Ryan Spooner manning the point in his first ever NHL game.

Rask’s shutout streak would come to an end at 91:13 in the second period as a Subban shot from the point deflected in off Rich Peverley‘s stick and into the Boston net to give the Canadiens the first goal of the game and the 1-0 lead. Assists on the goal went to Andrei Markov and Tomas Plekanec. Montreal now has a power-play goal in eight of their nine games this season.

After Campbell and Chris Kelly failed to convert on a two-on-one of their own, the score remained 1-0 until the start of the third when the juggling of the lines saw Seguin on the ice with Lucic and Krejci.

“We needed to create more scoring chances so we tweaked the lines a little bit and the guys responded well,” said Claude Julien about the adjustment. Montreal had outshot the B’s in the first two periods before the shuffling took place.

That was the difference in the game. The way that the Bruins came out flying in the third period allowed them to come back and earn the two points on the road. People around the league don’t call them the best third-period team for nothing. Rask continued to be on top of his game in the third and he was the biggest reason that the B’s went on to pick up at least a point in their fourth straight road game to open up the year.

The team’s 15 points in their first nine games matches their best nine-game start to a season in franchise history. The two teams will meet again on March 3 at TD Garden in the second of four on the year.

The three stars of the game were Rask, Seguin and Subban. Boston won for the 102nd time in their history at Montreal and the sixth in their last 12 visits to the Bell Centre.

The Bruins (7-1-1) are back home to take on the Lightning in a Saturday matinee (weather permitting) and the Canadiens (6-3) will travel to Buffalo tonight for a date with the Sabres.

 

Follow me on Twitter @RealAndyLarmand.

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