The last 37:43 left a little more to be desired, but the Bruins were able to hold on for the 4-2 win to get the 2010-11 campaign off on a positive note.
The Bruins were outshot in each period, with Montreal holding an overall 38-16 advantage. But Tuukka Rask turned aside 36 of those Montreal shots, while the Bruins made the most of a handful of early shots on Carey Price to post the victory against their ancient rival.
Rookie Tyler Seguin survived his first NHL test, chipping in an assist and never looking out of place on the ice despite some early jitters.
"Skating around, hearing 21,000 or whatever it was there tonight screaming when the Canadiens came on, it gives you shivers," Seguin told reporters after the game. "But it's something I'll get used to hopefully and you know, I got the first game out of the way."
Seguin admitted that there were some growing pains, especially in the early going, but he settled down nicely and finished with two shots and even had a pair of blocked shots in 15:05 of ice-time.
"My goals were just to get in, get comfortable, work my hardest and try to help the team out," said Seguin. "The first period, obviously you're going to make a couple errors in your first NHL game and I know I had some, but it was just some little adjustments I had to make and then I was happy with the final two periods."
Nathan Horton wasted no time in making an impact with his new team, as the big winger scored on his very first shot as a Bruin for a 1-0 lead just 1:33 into the opening period.
Horton beat Price glove-side inside the near post with a wrister from the right circle, a goal that set the tone for Montreal's embattled goaltender. Price was subjected to boos and mock cheers from the Montreal crowd all night, and he gave them plenty of ammunition by allowing four goals on just nine shots before giving way to Curtis Sanford midway through the second period.
The Canadiens opted to keep Price over playoff hero Jaroslav Halak, signing Price to a two-year extension worth $5.5 million after trading Halak to St. Louis this summer. The Bruins might have been the only team in the East disappointed by the move, as Price was 3-0 with an 0.97 GAA and a .971 save percentage in three starts against the Bruins last year.
But Price struggled against everyone else in 2009-10, going 13-20-5 with a 2.77 GAA and a .912 save percentage en route to losing his starting job to Halak. And the Bruins finally saw that Price on Wednesday night.
Johnny Boychuk doubled the lead with a one-timer from the blue line on the power play at 13:32 of the first. Rookie blueliner Matt Bartkowski set up the shot with his first of two assists in his pro debut. Seguin also collected his first pro point on the play by digging the puck out of a scrum in the right circle and getting it back to Bartkowski.
Patrice Bergeron enjoyed a fruitful return to his home province as he added the final two goals for the Bruins. The first came at 15:20 of the first as Daniel Paille made a nifty backhand pass to Bergeron in front, and Bergeron undressed Price with a deke in slot to make it 3-0.
Bergeron abused Price again 2:17 into the second on a short-handed breakaway and the Bruins were cruising with a 4-0 lead.
Things got more interesting after Sanford came in, and the Canadiens cut it to 4-2 with a shorthanded goal of their own by Maxim Lapierre from Tomas Plekanec, then added a power-play tally by Plekanec from Michael Cammalleri with 40 seconds left in the frame.
Despite outshooting Boston 17-4 in the third, the Canadiens could get no closer, thanks to some stellar work by Rask, who played the full 60 minutes and looked in midseason form.
In addition to Seguin and Horton, the other new faces for the Bruins enjoyed memorable debuts. Jordan Caron, another Quebec native playing in front of his family at the Bell Centre, had a strong night. He didn't get on the scoresheet, but he did play a solid two-way game and used his size effectively with three hits in 15:54.
Rookie Ryan Spooner showed some flashy moves and picked up an assist while finishing plus-1 in 14:01, while Bartkowski was a plus-2 with his two assists in 18:44.
Greg Campbell, the other guy who came over with Horton from Florida in this summer's big trade, showed he's willing to do all the little things to help his team succeed as he finished with four blocked shots and two hits. He also was the only Bruin to win more draws than he lost, going 5-4 on face-offs, while the rest of the team combined to go 13-24.
Tough guy Brian McGrattan didn't find a dance partner, but he did supply a physical presence with three hits and played a responsible game in a surprising 13:17 of ice-time.