Three hundred and sixty nine days after staging the greatest game 7 comeback in NHL history, the Boston Bruins didn’t have quite that hill to climb this time around, against the Montreal Canadiens. However, facing Carey Price instead of James Reimer in the opposition net proved too much and the favored Bruins were ousted by the upstart Canadiens 3-1 as the Habs advance to the Eastern Conference final against the New York Rangers.
The Habs quieted the home Bruins faithful early with a nice forecheck by the fourth line. Brandon Prust beat Johnny Boychuk to the shoot-in, fed Daniel Briere at the faceoff dot and his cross-crease pass to Dale Weise was an easy tap-in just 2:18 into the game.
Max Paciroetty made it 2-0 just past the midway point of the second period, after Boston had the puck within 15 feet of their blue line twice but turned it over both times. Brendan Gallagher stole it the second time and broke in 1 on 1, but saw Pacioretty at the far faceoff dot. Apparently nobody else saw him, because he was all alone and Gallagher’s perfect pass caught Tuukka Rask out of position and unable to get across to stop Pacioretty’s shot.
Boston got one back before the second was out, while on a power play. Milan Lucic kept the puck in at the blue line, passed to David Krejci who carried it into the slot and made a drop pass to Torey Krug. Krug’s shot was tipped down by Jarome Iginla, and Price got a piece of it but not enough as it went in just inside the post.
The Bruins trailed by 1 and the fans expected another dominating third period from their team, but although they outshot the Habs 8-4, it was Briere who scored the lone goal of the period. Gallagher and Briere broke out of the Canadiens’ zone on a power play, and after Gallagher made a short pass to Briere, Briere tried to feed it cross-crease to the onrushing Tomas Plekanec. The puck went off Zdeno Chara and past Rask, who was already moving across to where he anticipated the pass going.
The Bruins had a late power play but they couldn’t get one, let alone the two they needed and the President’s Trophy winners will not be returning to the finals.
The Bruins held the Canadiens to just 18 shots, while putting 30 on Price.
The Montreal Canadiens will start their series against the Rangers on Saturday afternoon.