Bruins Overcome Shaky Third Period to Open Up Road Trip With Much-Needed Win in Montreal

Bruins Overcome Shaky Third Period to Open Up Road Trip With Much-Needed Win in MontrealThe Bruins started strong and finished well, and that was enough to escape their final visit of the year to Montreal with two points.

Those two points might be the only thing the Bruins will want to take out of Wednesday's 4-3 shootout victory over the Canadiens, but for a team desperate to snap out of a month-long malaise, that's enough for now.

"I give the guys a lot of credit," said Bruins coach Claude Julien, whose club is now 7-7-1 in its last 15 games. "I really felt that we played through a lot of adversity tonight. It was tough to keep them focused, not get frustrated, but that's what we had to do and our guys did a decent job of that."

That adversity included an injury to Rich Peverley in the third period and a string of players needing stitches as the Bruins found themselves on the wrong end of a number of high sticks and a puck that sailed into Zdeno Chara's chin in the night's scariest scene.

But much of the adversity the Bruins faced was self-inflicted. A dominant third-period team for most of the season, the Bruins blew a two-goal lead in the third period of this one to hand Montreal a point before snatching the extra point for themselves in the shootout.

One night after Julien berated the team for getting away from its identity as a hard-working, physical team that creates its offense through checking, the Bruins were out-hit and out-worked for much of the night by the usually finesse-oriented Canadiens.

Sloppy play plagued the Bruins, who were guilty of undisciplined penalties and costly turnovers. The most egregious of the former was another clipping penalty to Brad Marchand.

This one wasn't nearly as serious as the low hit he put on Vancouver's Sami Salo last month that earned Marchand a five-game suspension. But it was an unnecessary hit that came at the final buzzer of the second period when Marchand hunched over to hit Montreal defenseman Alexei Emelin.

Emelin returned to play in the third, but Marchand's ever-growing rap sheet could cause the league to take a look at this hit for possible supplemental discipline.

Beyond the danger to Emelin that the hit posed, it also put Boston's victory in jeopardy. The Bruins were able to kill off the penalty to start the third, but they couldn't reverse the momentum as Max Pacioretty scored at 3:34 to pull Montreal within a goal.

They failed to generate any offense of their own in the third period to relieve the pressure on netminder Tim Thomas. The Bruins did not have a single shot on goal until Andrew Ference fired one in from the left circle 14:24 into the period. By that point, Montreal had put nine shots on Thomas and scored twice to tie the game.

The second of those goals was a gift, with Chara the unlikely benefactor. The Bruins captain coughed up the puck in front of the net with 8:48 to play, and Erik Cole took advantage as he broke in alone for the goal.

"I don't know if we got caught off guard. We've got to be better," center Patrice Bergeron told reporters. "We know they're a team that never stops battling, and they showed that again. We found a way but we’re not happy with our last period."

The Bruins snapped out of their funk in overtime, outshooting Montreal 7-3 and nearly ending the game there when Marchand came within inches of atoning for his penalty. He beat Carey Price cleanly as he broke in down the right wing, but clanged the shot off the crossbar.

David Krejci also found iron when he hit the post in the opening round of the shootout, but Tyler Seguin and Thomas made it a moot point. Seguin scored the only goal of the shootout in the second round and Thomas stoned all three Habs shooters.

With that, the Bruins hope to have begun another memorable mid-winter road trip by overcoming a third period they would just as soon forget.

Have a question for Douglas Flynn? Send it to him via Twitter at @douglasflynn or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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