The Bruins controlled 58.33% of the play. Shots on goal favoured the Bruins 43-22. The Bruins led in scoring chances 31-26 and 11-8 in dangerous chances.
But Carey Price stopped 41 of 43 shots. And the Canadiens won the game 3-2 in overtime.
We mentioned after his shutout win over Colorado Saturday that Price is in a zone and he’s been firmly planted in it since his two game furlough back in mid-November but more especially since Shea Weber returned to the lineup November 27th. In his 19 appearances since then he is 11-7-0 with he a 1.97 goals against average and .927 save percentage and that is good return on his new contract.
There was a feeling that some of the steam had come out of a meeting between the Bruins and Canadiens. Part of it was based on the fact that Boston had won eight of the previous nine games between the teams. It was abetted by that emotionless 4-0 Canadiens Bell Centre loss to the Bruins on December 17th. The rivalry was back Monday night. There were fifty-two recorded hits. There was a fight and a number of post whistle scrums and notable intensity from both sides.
Brendan Gallagher‘s battles against 6’8” Zdeno Chara are of legend by now. Chara has been driven to distraction by his 5’9” opponent and Gallagher did it again. With the Bruins leading 1-0, Phillip Danault cleanly won a faceoff against Brad Marchand. Gallagher headed for his usual spot in front of the goal where he slipped around Chara in time to deflect Jeff Petry’s incoming to tie the game. It was just the most obvious part of another of Gallagher’s deterimed performances that set the tone for his teammates.
Jeff Petry gave the puck away in his own zone twenty seconds into the game. It was his only giveaway of the entire game. He assisted on the Gallagher goal. But his winning goal in overtime was something else. Domi‘s shot came off Rask’s glove and popped up. Petry had the presence to wait for the puck to come down below cross-bar height before he batted it into the net out of mid air. It was his 10th goal of the season. Among defencemen only Morgan Rielly (12) and Mathew Dumba (11) has more this season.
The win gave the Canadiens 55 points in 47 games. If 92 points is the cutoff point for a playoff berth the Canadiens need 37 points in their final 35 games. With this game they hold down the first wild card berth (7th in the Eastern Conference) one point ahead of the Islanders. They’re two behind Boston and only three behind second place Toronto in the Atlantic Division. Who predicted that at this points of the season?
ALSO WORTH MENTIONING
….Once again Claude Julien started his overtime with his speedsters. It was Domi, Byron and Petry who combined for the game winner. Domi won the face off to start it. Fifteen seconds later Petry put the puck in the net.
….Patrice Bergeron is one of the league’s best all round players but he was no match for Paul Byron‘s speed. Playing shorthanded, Byron left him in his tracks on his breakaway path to the Canadiens second goal. Nice backhand roofing to finish it off. His first goal since December 22nd. He finished the game with two points.
….Something to watch as we move on. Shea Weber stumbled while trying to turn to his right to defend as Brad Marchand moved it to score the game’s opening goal. He had a similar problem later in the game. He didn’t have a great game but it should be noted that, as with Saturday’s Colorado game, he and Victor Mete were on the ice against one of the league’s best forward lines. Still, considering the stumbles, I wonder if that ankle is giving him trouble.
….This was one of Jonathan Drouin‘s best games. Solid not only offensively but also on defence. Moving him away from Domi seems to have picked up both players.
….For the second straight game, Danault had a big night in the faceoff circle. Against Colorado’s top line Saturday night he won 71%. Against the Bruins it was 59% (17 of 29) including 9 of 15 (60%) against Bergeron.
….Jeff Petry logged a game high 25:00 icetime, 4:24 more than Weber.
….It wasn’t only Gallagher who ignored Chara‘s physical presence. Chara was also bedeviled by a forechecking Jesperi Kotkaniemi on at least five occasions and he didn’t come out on the winning side in any of them.
….The Bruins have lost only seven of twenty-three home games this season. Two of the losses have come against the Canadiens.
….The Canadiens problems outside of five-on-five are entering the Twilight Zone. Their power play is awful, their penalty killing is below average and the Canadiens gave up another four-on-four goal. This season the Canadiens have been outscored a leaague-worst 6-0 in that situation.
This was the first of four games in six nights for the Canadiens. They’ll be home to Florida Tuesday to complete the second half of the back-to-back set. Then it’s two in 24 hours Friday in Columbus and back home to Philadelphia on Saturday. The Canadiens have now won three of their last four.