The Boston Bruins carried a five-game winning streak into Bell Centre on Wednesday night against the Montreal Canadiens. They weren’t the only ones with some sort of winning streak on the line.
The Habs came in riding a five-game winning streak against the Bruins. That streak is no more, however, as the Bruins rolled 4-1. The blowout win marks the Bruins’ first triumph over the Canadiens in more than a year.
Maybe just as important as finally breaking through against the Canadiens is that the Bruins just keep on rolling. They’re winners of their last six and now are 7-1-2 in their last 10 games. They own a 13-point lead over second-place Toronto and a 14-point lead over third-place Montreal — with two games in hand over both in the Atlantic Division.
The B’s are right in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference playoff race, too, sitting only one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the top spot. And they’ve improved their goal differential to plus-64, only one behind the top-ranked St. Louis Blues, arguably the best team in hockey.
Much of the Bruins’ recent success has been because of improvements in areas in which they’d struggled before getting hot. They needed to play better against Montreal, and they did, but another area for improvement was their play on the road. The Bruins now have an 11-game road point streak and haven’t lost in regulation away from Boston since Jan. 9 in Los Angeles.
The Bruins also have been much better in second periods. During a lull midway through the season, the B’s inexplicably were being worked over in the middle period. Their plus-3 goal differential in the second period entering Wednesday’s game easily was their worst of any of the three periods (compared to plus-29 in the first and a league-best plus-38 in the third).
Yet the Bruins have started to solve that riddle, and that was no more evident than against Montreal. The Bruins used an evenly spread three-goal period during the middle 20 to really put the game away. The B’s struck early in the period (Carl Soderberg at the 1:33 mark), in the middle (Patrice Bergeron at 9:25) and late when Milan Lucic’s goal at the 18:32 mark proved to be a back-breaker that squashed any real hopes of a third-period comeback for the Habs.
“Yeah, there’s no doubt that goal (Lucic) was a big goal,” Bruins coach Claude Julien told reporters after the game. “We were hemmed in, and it was nice to get that goal and kind of took a lot of pressure off of us.”
If there was any sort of pressure on the Bruins to get a win in Montreal, it didn’t really show. Instead, they continued to roll, and if they continue to play like this, it might not matter who gets in their way.