Coming home tied at one game apiece, the Montreal Canadiens used a boisterous home crowd and more stellar play from Carey Price and P.K. Subban to take the lead in their series with the Boston Bruins on the strength of a 4-2 win.
It was the Habs’ most complete game of the series, as they bottled up the Bruins for the most part and didn’t have to rely on Price quite as much as they did through the first two games of the series. Price faced just 28 shots as the Montreal Canadiens blocked 29 other shot attempts from the Bruins.
Montreal got on the board just before the 11 minute mark of the first, with Subban pinching up the boards and tipping the puck to Thomas Vanek who was covering his spot at the blue line. Vanek wound up for a slapshot but shrewdly saw Tomas Plekanec cruising by the side of the net. Vanek made a nice slap-pass to Plekanec who had an open net with Tuukka Rask out cutting down the angle for the anticipated shot, and Plekanec didn’t miss.
The Montreal Canadiens doubled the lead less than 5 minutes later when a penalty to Subban expired. Lars Eller carried the puck out of his own zone just as Subban joined the rush from the sin bin unchecked. Eller sent Subban in alone and a nice fake shot got Rask to make the first move and a forehand wrist shot found the back of the net.
Dale Weise made it 3-0 past the midway point of the second, blowing the defensive zone after a blocked shot by Mike Weaver, and the puck bounced right to Daniel Briere who quickly sprung Weise on yet another breakaway. Weise made no mistake, burying the puck past Rask, and then to add insult to injury did the Bruins chest pound celebration as he skated past the Boston bench.
The Bruins got some life with just over 2 minutes left in the second, with a won draw by Patrice Bergeron. Brad Marchand tapped the puck back to the point and Torey Krug‘s wrist shot was tipped by Bergeron past Price to make it 3-1 after 40 minutes.
While the Bruins have been the best third period team in the league, and twice overcame 2 goal deficits in that frame in the series already, the Montreal Canadiens did a good job of shutting them down in this one. They held the Bruins to just 7 shots, and although Jarome Iginla did tip an Andrej Meszaros shot past Price with 2:14 left to get them within one, they didn’t have enough pressure to get the equalizer.
Eller scored into the empty net with 3 seconds left to erase any remaining doubt as the Montreal Canadiens sent their fans home happy and kept the home ice advantage the stole in game 1 in Boston.
The pivotal game 4 goes Thursday night in Montreal.