Or to put it another way, the B’s played the role of “les incompetents” through two periods in Montreal.
Boston was sloppy, lethargic and, quite frankly, uninspired through two periods in Montreal for their first meeting of the season with their storied rivals. However, as the Canadiens looked poised to assume sole possession of first place in the Northeast Division, the Bruins awoke from their slumber.
Claude Julien took the calculated risk of mixing up his lines during the second intermission, and it only took 14 seconds for that risk to pay dividends.
Tyler Seguin was a player in the game through two periods by name only, but he came out playing inspired hockey right from the first shift in the third. Seguin, who was moved onto a line next to David Krejci and Milan Lucic, showed a burst of energy off the opening faceoff in the third. He skated hard in his first shift, and put the pressure on the Montreal defense as the puck was dumped into the attack zone. That led to Krejci gaining possession of the puck before he found Seguin in front of the net for the game-tying goal.
The eventual game-winning tally came just 1:51 later with terrific puck movement through all three zones with the Lucic-Krejci-Seguin line striking again. This time, it was Krejci finding the back of the net.
The line juggling was a shrewd move, no doubt, by Julien. Credit the Boston bench boss for realizing that he wasn’t getting the most out of all of his guys, and he made the change. Not only that, he made the right change, and proved once again that he has his finger on the pulse of his hockey club.
The win made sure another stellar effort from Tuukka Rask didn’t go wasted. The Finnish netminder kept Boston in the game when they had no business being in it. Rask made a couple of marquee saves in the first and second periods, turning away breakaway chances and one-timers. It looked like the momentum would keep building and building, but each time Montreal attacked wave after wave, Rask was there.
It was that effort that allowed the Bruins to come from behind in the third.
“They had a lot of scoring chances and we didn’t play our best,” Rask, the game’s first star, told the NBC Sports Network after the game. “It’s a good thing we kept them off the scoreboard.
“It’s a great effort. We talked after the second that we needed to get better in case we wanted to win the game. We did that, got two quick goals and got the win. So it was a character win for us. “
The goaltending was fantastic. The penalty kill was fantastic, despite allowing a fluky goal from P.K. Subban that ran up the stick blade of Rich Peverley‘s stick. The coaching was fantastic. And when they really needed it, the Bruins got the offense they desperately sought.
All in all, it was just another winning effort from a championship-caliber team.
In the process, the Bruins hold on atop the Northeast Division. It has to be a somewhat demoralizing outcome for the Canadiens, too. Montreal came in flying high, sitting just a point behind the Bruins in the division. Through 40 minutes, it looked like Montreal was ready to usurp Boston atop the division standings, for at least one night.
But before they knew it, the Habs were slugged in the face by a more experienced, tougher and, frankly, better hockey team in the Bruins.
There was a message sent, no doubt. While the Bruins will have to continue to improve, they sent a not-so-subtle reminder to the Canadiens and the rest of the division that the Northeast still runs through Boston.