Final, Canadiens 2-0: Montreal takes Game 1 of this series and wrests home ice away from the Bruins with an impressive showing at the Garden.
The Canadiens got the early lead they wanted with a goal on the game's first shot, then were able to sit back and frustrate the Bruins. Boston dominated the second period but could not break through on Carey Price, who stopped all 31 shots he saw for the shutout.
The Bruins will look to even the series on Saturday in Game 2 at the Garden before the series shifts to Montreal next week.
Third Period, 17:18, Canadiens 2-0: The Bruins are now shorthanded, as Chara goes off for roughing after an altercation with Plekanec at the blue line.
Third Period, 16:42, Canadiens 2-0: The Habs double the lead, with Brian Gionta scoring again.
Scott Gomez stripped Milan Lucic, then dropped a pass to Gionta, who blasted one past Thomas.
Third Period, 16:14, Canadiens 1-0: Time is running out for the Bruins now, as they still try to get their first shot past Price after 31 attempts so far.
Third Period, 14:24, Canadiens 1-0: Nathan Horton comes close to tying it with a tip at the right post of a Boychuk shot from the point, but it remains a 1-0 game.
Third Period, 12:44, Canadiens 1-0: Rich Peverley with a chance for the Bruins, coming out of the left corner and cutting to the front of the net, but the Bruins can't put it home.
Third Period, 9:06, Canadiens 1-0: The Bruins' best chance of the period so far, with Lucic fighting through traffic in front to get a shot on net off a Krejci feed.
Third Period, 7:43, Canadiens 1-0: The Bruins' attack has stalled a bit here in the third, as they have just one shot in the period so far.
Third Period, 4:06, Canadiens 1-0: Zdeno Chara with a hit on Andrei Kostitsyn between the benches that was probably a little too close to the stanchion for the Habs' liking, though no contact with the stanchion was made.
Third Period, 1:11, Canadiens 1-0: The Bruins successfully killed off that penalty and are now back at even strength and can look to get back on the attack to try to pull even.
Third Period, 0:00, Canadiens 1-0: The final frame is under way here at the Garden, with the Bruins looking to kill the final 1:11 of Brad Marchand's interference penalty, then rally from a goal down in this opening game against the Habs.
Brick Breaks Down the Game: Spent a few minutes with NESN analyst Andy Brickley discussing what we've seen so far and what the Bruins will need to do to pull this one out in the third.
Here's Brick's breakdown:
"I liked a lot of what I saw in that [second] period," Brickley said. "There was a lot of offensive-zone time, a lot of puck-possession time. They looked a lot less nervous. The defense was involved. There got a lot of shots.
"I'd like to see some better inside position on those second opportunities. But they're playing their game. I really felt that Montreal was on borrowed time in that period. If they play the third period like that I think they'll get at least one goal.
"In the third, I'd like to see some better inside positioning as I mentioned. There was a little too much double clutching. [Tomas] Kaberle did that a couple times, looking people off, faking shots. There needs to be some better communication to create some real quality chances. And they need a little good fortune. They have to have an awareness that Montreal will be looking for that one chance [to counterattack], but if the Bruins play this period the way they played that last period, I like their chances to win this game."
End Second Period, Canadiens 1-0: The Bruins outshot Montreal 18-6 in the second, but couldn't get any of those attempts past Price and will head to the third still trailing 1-0 with 1:11 remaining on Marchand's penalty.
Second Period, 19:10, Canadiens 1-0: The Bruins are shorthanded again, as Brad Marchand goes off for interference after leveling Tomas Plekanec with a huge hit at the blue line as the puck skidded by. The puck was in the area, but Plekanec hadn't played it yet and the refs ruled it interference.
Second Period, 17:10, Canadiens 1-0: The Bruins are dominating this period everywhere except the scoreboards. They're bombarding Price with shots, but nothing has gotten by the Montreal netminder. Shots are now 25-14 Boston after being 8-8 after one period.
Second Period, 15:56, Canadiens 1-0: The Bruins with some good pressure for a long shift in the Montreal zone, but it ends when Kaberle refuses to shoot and ends up passing it out of the zone.
Second Period, 13:32, Canadiens 1-0: Brad Marchand outraces the Montreal defense to a loose puck for a chance coming in down the right wing, but Price makes the stop.
Second Period, 11:45, Canadiens 1-0: Up and down action with chances at both ends of the ice. It was so hectic there wasn't even time to stop to fix a piece of the support that came off the glass when Recchi went for a hit on Subban. Fortunately no one was checked into that section of loose glass before it was fixed at the next whistle.
Second Period, 8:35, Canadiens 1-0: Another frustrating power play for the Bruins, though it was also costly for the Habs, as Travis Moen was hurt blocking a Chara slap shot.
Second Period, 6:35, Canadiens 1-0: The Bruins will get another power-play chance, this time for the full two minutes as Jaroslav Spacek goes off for interference.
Second Period, 5:50, Canadiens 1-0: Good pressure from the Bruins early this period. The Bergeron line creating some havoc with Marchand in front as Boychuk fires in a shot from the point.
Second Period, 3:57, Canadiens 1-0: The Bruins nearly catch a break, as Price flubs a shot and Shawn Thornton has a shot at the rebound in front, but Price comes up with the save to make up for his own gaffe.
Second Period, 1:43, Canadiens 1-0: The sides all back at even strength. The Bruins got some good looks on their brief power play, including a couple of blasts from Chara at the point, but it remains 1-0.
Second Period, 0:00, Canadiens 1-0: The middle frame is under way, with the sides start 4 on 4 for 49 seconds, then the Bruins will have a brief power play as they try to pull even in the opening game of the series.
First Intermission Notes: That wasn't the start the Bruins were looking for, letting the Habs play from the lead right from the start as Montreal scored on the very first shot of the series.
Boston's physical play was fine in the first. The Bruins had a 13-10 edge in hits and have delivered some good shots. Those have been delivered legally. It's been a pair of hooking calls that got Boston in trouble, though David Krejci's was certainly embellished by P.K. Subban.
It was a tough first playoff period as a Bruin for Tomas Kaberle had the bad clear that led to Montreal's goal and took the other hooking penalty. Nathan Horton and Greg Campbell each have a shot and have played well in their playoff debuts, while Brad Marchand has a game-high three shot and has been getting under the Canadiens' skins without putting himself into the box very effectively so far.
End First Period, Canadiens 1-0: The first period is in the books, with Montreal drawing first blood with the only goal of the opening frame.
First Period, 19:42, Canadiens 1-0: Montreal squanders that chance as Ryan White is called for roughing for hitting Andrew Ference after a touch-up for icing.
First Period, 18:49, Canadiens 1-0: Montreal goes on the power play again, this time with David Krejci going off for hooking. P.K. Subban went down awfully easy on that slight tug.
First Period, 18:10, Canadiens 1-0: Milan Lucic got up a little gingerly after a collision along the boards, but finished the shift and stayed on the bench after the TV timeout. He appears OK.
First Period, 16:09, Canadiens 1-0: Brad Marchand nearly tied it with a chance at the right post, but can't quite collect the pass with an open net behind Price.
First Period, 14:52, Canadiens 1-0: The Bruins kill that penalty off, but Montreal had much more dangerous chances on its power play than the Bruins mustered on theirs.
First Period, 12:52, Canadiens 1-0: The Habs will have their first power-play chance as Kaberle goes off for hooking. Huge kill here for the Bruins, who can't afford to go down by two.
First Period, 10:21, Canadiens 1-0: Ryan White just hit Tomas Kaberle behind the play several seconds after Kaberle got rid of the puck. Obvious interference call to everyone but the two refs working the game.
First Period, 9:07, Canadiens 1-0: Horrible power play for the Bruins. Marchand had one chance in close on a rush, but Boston couldn't set up in the Montreal zone at all.
First Period, 7:07, Canadiens 1-0: The Bruins will get the first power-play chance of the series, as Roman Hamrlik goes off for interference.
First Period, 6:19, Canadiens 1-0: Impressive shift by Michael Ryder, who showed some speed and determination and some creativity with a nifty backhand pass over to Peverley for a chance from the left circle.
First Period, 4:42, Canadiens 1-0: The Bruins are trying to answer back after that quick goal. Shots now 4-2 Boston, with Marchand having a good chance on a redirection at the right post.
First Period, 4:19, Canadiens 1-0: The Bruins have come out hitting, with Johnny Boychuk, Mark Recchi and most recently Shawn Thornton all delivering big checks. That's what they need to do to slow down the Habs.
First Period, 2:45, Canadiens 1-0: The Habs strike first, with Brian Gionta scoring on the very first shot of the series.
After Scott Gomez intercepted a Kaberle clearing attempt around the boards, he sent it over to Gionta for the tap in at the right post.
First Period, 0:00, 0-0: Rene Rancourt has belted out both anthems and were finally ready for some playoff action. The 33rd postseason series between these ancient rivals is under way.
7:05 p.m.: Electric atmosphere at the Garden, with the fans waving gold towels as the lights come up after pregame video presentation.
Nice new touch this year with flags featuring name and number of each Bruin being waved from front row of balconies. Flags in black for current players, gold for the franchise's retired numbers.
7 p.m.: The Bruins will open the postseason with the line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi up front, Tomas Kaberle and Dennis Seidenberg on defense and Tim Thomas in goal.
The Canadiens counter with Mathieu Darche, Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta on defense, with James Wisniewski and Roman Hamrlik on the blue line and Carey Price in net.
6:55 p.m.: Tyler Seguin, Shane Hnidy and Matt Bartkowski, along with all the Black Aces practicing on their own in Rhode Island, are officially the scratches in this one.
The Canadiens have scratched Yannick Weber, Alexandre Picard and former Bruin Paul Mara on defense and Jeff Halpern up front.
6:45 p.m.: The only wrinkle in how the Bruins lined up in warm-ups was having Rich Peverley at center and Chris Kelly at left wing on the third line. They alternated in those spots in the final few regular-season games.
Tyler Seguin and Shane Hnidy did not skate in the line drills. Here's how the line combinations and defense pairs looked in warm-ups:
6:30 p.m.: Tim Thomas and Carey Price lead the teams out for warm-ups. As expected, that will be the goaltending matchup for Game 1.
Tyler Seguin and Shane Hnidy are skating in warm-ups for the Bruins, but they are still expected to be the scratches for this one.
6:15 p.m.: The Bruins have stressed the need for discipline in this series, as they can't afford to spend much time in the box with Montreal's potent power play.
But the Canadiens will surely do their best to draw penalties, perhaps even with some questionable methods as indicated by this NESN.com poll asking fans to weigh in on the Habs' tendency to embellish fould to elicit calls.
6 p.m.: The streets outside the Garden are overflowing with fans, while inside the Bruins are engaged in a spirited soccer game in the hallway. Must be about an hour to game time.
If the screams and shouts from the usually more subdued soccer game is any indication, the Bruins are certainly fired up for this one. And there's no doubting that the Garden faithful will be ready to bring the noise.
The best time of year is just about here, with the Bruins and Canadiens ready to open up yet another classic playoff series.
There were no surprises out of the morning skates. Tim Thomas and Carey Price should be in goal as expected, while Tyler Seguin will begin the playoffs as a healthy scratch.
8 a.m.: The wait is finally over. The playoffs are here.
The Bruins open the postseason Thursday night by welcoming a very familiar foe to the Garden. The Bruins and Canadiens have played 711 times in the regular season and 163 more games in 32 playoff series. They'll add at least four more games to that total as third-seeded Boston takes on No. 6 Montreal in an Eastern Conference quarterfinal.
By now, there are no secrets between these ancient rivals. Both sides have worn out the game tapes and learned all they can from this season's six matchups. Now it's just a matter of applying those lessons.
"You always have a look at your games that you've played against them and try to pick up some things that might help you a little bit," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "We've already done that. We've done our homework and we feel ready to go."
Looking back at this year's game surely brought some painful memories to both sides. The Canadiens won four of the six meetings, but both teams took their lumps — both literal and figurative — in the encounters.
Montreal opened the series with a relatively quiet 3-1 win at the Garden on Nov. 11, then won again 4-1 at the Bell Centre on Dec. 16 in a game punctuated by P.K. Subban's devastating hit on Brad Marchand. The Habs then shocked the Bruins with two goals in the final 2:22 of regulation, followed by Max Pacioretty's overtime winner for a 3-2 victory in Montreal on Jan. 8.
The Bruins got their revenge with an 8-6 win at the Garden on Feb. 9 in a game that featured 182 penalty minutes and six fights, including a bout between goalies Tim Thomas and Carey Price. The Habs won 4-1 in Montreal on March 8, but the hostilities continued when Zdeno Chara drove Pacioretty headfirst into the stanchion between the benches. Pacioretty hasn't played since, while the Bruins added insult to injury with a 7-0 rout of the Canadiens in the season's final meeting at the Garden on March 24.
All of those decisions will pale in comparison to the games to come in this series, when the stakes will be even higher in the postseason. The Bruins and Habs have met in the playoffs twice in the last three years, with Montreal winning in seven games in 2008 and Boston sweeping the Canadiens the following spring.
They appeared destined for another clash last year in the conference finals, but the Bruins blew a 3-0 series lead against Philadelphia, which went on to defeat Montreal as well before falling to Chicago in the Stanley Cup Finals.
This year, the Bruins won't be satisfied with anything short of at least a trip to the conference finals.
"We entered this year coming off that disappointing end against Philadelphia and that's been an underlying theme of the year, to be able to respond, to be able to build from that," general manager Peter Chiarelli said. "The obvious answer is to get past the second round, but it's more than that. It's about how we play. It's about how we compete. There's a lot of variables that go into a playoff run, and I expect us to have a successful one."
But the Bruins can't get through the second round without first surviving the opening series. That quest begins Thursday at the Garden.
The puck drops at 7 p.m., so check back here throughout the day for updates on all the action.