The game had the feel of a playoff match with both teams leaving it all on the ice. A fight, hits, goals, great goaltending, tons of scoring chances.
What more could a fan want?
Oh, a Habs victory would have been nice. But, to be honest, the Habs should be proud of their effort, coming from behind to tie it up in the third and force extra innings.
Ultimately, it was the Habs inability to score in the shootout that cost them the extra point. That and Carey Price's seeming inability to stop shots low, stick side. But, as TSN 990's Conor McKenna pointed out on Twitter, it's hard to win in the shootout when you don't score.
Final Score: Bruins 4 - Habs 3
Dropped - Less than three minutes into the first period Shawn Thornton took a run at Lars Eller in the Habs zone. Eller stood tall and Thornton bounced off him like raisins off an Oldsmobile.
Nice. Just wait till Eller puts on 10-15 pounds!
Nailed - If the Eller shoulder on Thornton was an appetizer, Alexei Emelin served the main course. Still in the first period and with Thornton gathering the puck in the Habs zone, Emelin stepped full shoulder into the Bruins' tough guy, absolutely obliterating him in the corner.
Thornton sort of had his back/side turned to Emelin, so it was kind of a borderline hit. But Thornton sure tried to sell it.
It's fair to say the Habs are a whole hell of a lot tougher than the last time they played the Bruins.
As you'd expect, Thornton was fuming after the hit, and was trying to get retribution on Emelin all night. How did the "tough guy" respond? By nailing Emelin with a dirty, blindside hit. Ya, real tough there Thornton.
And of course, the hit went unpenalized. Way to change the culture, NHL.
Go Whitey - Continuing in the toughness vain, I tweeted, before the match, that I thought Ryan White, playing his first game of the year, would drop the gloves in the first period.
And Whitey, as he is called, did not disappoint.
With just under six minutes to play in the first, Tim Thomas froze the puck on a Habs rush. White, skating after the puck, immediately got a nice neck grab from Adam McQuaid. And he wasn't having any of it.
Both players dropped their gloves and went at it. White took a huge upper cut from McQuaid near the end of the fight, but ultimately did his job and sent notice that he was back.
Moveover, he helped set the tone from what was a hard fought, physical battle.
Boy did the Habs miss him from the lineup this season.
Darche Continues to Impress - OK, disclaimer...I am not a fan of seeing Mathieu Darche on the second line with Tomas Plekanec and Rene Bourque.
Now that I've gotten that out of the way, man has Darche ever turned his game around. I'm not sure how a player can go from being so useless over the first 40 games to being so integral to the team's success since.
But somehow, Darche has done just that.
He scored the Habs first goal of the game on a beautiful pass from P.K. Subban to tie the game at one. It was a play that exemplifies the way Darche has to play: crash the net.
Darche finished the night with one goal, three shots on net, two blocked shots, and six, yes six, body checks.
Not a bad night's work! Moreover, Darche now has three goals and three assist in his last eight games.
What gives with Chara and Pacioretty? - I find it amazing how timidly both Max Pacioretty and Zdeno Chara have played this season when the two teams clash.
I imagine there is hesitation in both players' minds due to "the incident". But you'd figure they'd get over it eventually.
Speaking of getting over it, Pacioretty scored the Habs second goal of the game. It was his 24th of the season and first of the year against the Bruins.
Monkey off his back?
Hit parade - With the teams playing their sixth and final regular season match of the year, the game had the feel and intensity of a playoff match. Both teams went hard at each other and the physical play was on full display.
In total, there were 43 body check thrown, 16 by the Bruins and 27 by the Habs—yes, the Canadiens outhit the Bruins.
And there were a ton of real nasty ones in there, many between Emelin and Thornton.
For the Habs, the hits read as follows:
Darche with six, Eric Cole with five, Emelin with three, Andrei Kostitsyn with three, Hal Gill with two, P.K. Subban with two, and six others with one each.
When was the last time the Bruins had to keep their heads up when playing against the Habs? Ya, I don't remember either.
It's just too bad that this was likely the final game of the year between these two teams. I mean, how entertaining would a seven game series between these two hated foes be?
Stats of the night - 27. Back to the body checks. The Habs severely outhitting the Bruins was one of the stories of the night.
Question of the night - Will Brad Marchand be suspended for his low-bridge hit on Emelin? Marchard was skating right at Emelin and went low, taking him out at the knees.
Listening to TSN's Bob McKenzie's take, he said you cannot go low on a player when you are moving towards them. That is Tucker on Peca territory. Check out the replay, that is exactly what Marchand did.
Here's the vid:
Fortunately, Emelin wasn't injured but you have to think that only weeks after being suspended for a similar offense, Marchand will have a hearing with Brendan Shanahan.
As a repeat offender he should get a longer suspension. Should. But why is it that my gut tells me he will only get a $2500 fine?
Up next - The Habs have the day off before taking on the Sabres, in Buffalo, on Friday. It will be yet another must win for the Habs who are actually playing some of their best hockey of the season.
Too bad they didn't start playing this way 30 games sooner, because we would be talking about playoff positioning instead of an early tee-time.
Kamal is a freelance writer, Senior Writer/Editor-in-Chief of HabsAddict.com, Montreal Canadiens Blogger on Hockeybuzz.com and featured columnist on PowerScoutHockey.com. Kamal is also a weekly contributor to the Sunday Shinny segment of The Franchise weekend morning show, on TSN Radio 990 (AM 990) every Sunday from 9 - 10 AM. Listen live at http://www.tsn.ca/montreal/
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