For 50+ minutes, it looked like Carey Price was going to steal a second straight game for the Montreal Canadiens against the Boston Bruins. It wasn’t quite the volume of shots as Game 1, but Price stopped 26 of the first 27 that actually made it through to him, and the Habs held the dreaded 3-1 lead as late as 10:55 of the third period.
But, as has been the trend so far in the second round, a 2 goal lead is the worst lead in hockey, and it rang true as the Bruins roared back and scored on 4 of their next 8 shots to rescue a game and salvage a home ice split when it looked like they were in serious trouble.
Boston actually held the lead for the first time in the series with Dan Paille’s first of the playoffs, a nice wrist shot from inside the slot after a nice pass from Carl Soderberg, 13:02 into the first period.
The Canadiens knotted the score early in the second after Brandon Prust did his best Nick Kypreos impression and fell on Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask despite being pushed in a different direction by Andrej Meszaros. Prust looked like Seinfeld’s Magic Loogie and Rask couldn’t recover his ground in time to stop Mike Weaver‘s shot.
Montreal’s power play gave them the lead while on a 4 on 3 late in the second. Zdeno Chara made a rare brain cramp trying to clear the puck up the middle while having about 15 feet of open ice along the boards and the puck was kept in by the Candiens and the play ended up with Thomas Vanek tipping a pass from P.K. Subban past Rask.
Subban and Vanek combined to light the lamp on another power play in the third period, as Subban’s point blast got past two Boston Bruins defenders trying to block the shot and was tipped by Vanek to the top shelf from a few feet out, a play that Rask could neither see nor stop.
However, the Bruins were the best team in hockey in the third period for a reason, and they wore down the Canadiens and finally got to Price, but it wasn’t pretty. Dougie Hamilton got the rally going with a point shot through about 4 bodies that seemed to go in off of defenseman Andrei Markov with just over 9 minutes left. A strong forecheck by the trio of Patrice Bergeron, Reilly Smith and Brad Marchand ended up with Bergeron putting a quick shot towards the net from the side boards. The shot went off the knee of Francis Boullion and got over Price’s shoulder to even the score and get the Bruins momentum going even stronger.
Boston re-took the lead with 3 and a half minutes left, as Smith took a pass from Torey Krug across the slot and although it was nearly intercepted by Brendan Gallagher it got through and Price couldn’t get across quick enough to make the save as Subban was occupied with Marchand at the side of the net and missed the chance to bock the shot.
Lucic ended it with just over a minute left, putting the puck into the empty net to send the Boston Bruins home crowd into an even greater frenzy that they have been in for the last 8 minutes of the game.
Was the third period momentum swing enough to give the Bruins confidence that they can get to Price eventually or will getting back home give the Habs the edge? We will find out Tuesday night as the teams get an extra day off.