BOSTON — Bruins winger Milan Lucic sat on the bench in the second period and sent a message, even if that wasn’t his actual intent.
The power forward, moments after battling with P.K. Subban for a loose puck in the corner, Lucic sat on the bench and flexed his right bicep at Subban. That wasn’t the only flexing the Bruins did Saturday night.
The Bruins rolled to a 4-2 win over the Canadiens in Game 5 of their best-of-seven series, and Boston now holds a 3-2 lead. They’ll attempt to finish the series Monday at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
The Canadiens had done a good job through four games of frustrating the Bruins and getting Boston away from its style of preferred style. On Saturday night, however, the Bruins got back to playing the way they want. The Bruins were physical and aggressive without being careless. They carried the play 5-on-5 and used the power play to generate offense when they needed goals. They jumped out to a lead and then played tight, smart hockey.
For the first time all series, they looked like the Presidents’ Trophy-winning club that won its first-round series in five games.
“We seemed more in control, we seemed to be putting pucks in the right areas, we seemed to be in sync, and I thought we were focused for the whole 60 minutes,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said. “It was a great effort on our part, and as I said earlier, there’s a lot tougher times coming and we’ve got to be ready for the next one.”
If the Bruins are to close out the series in “the next one” on Monday, they’ll need another effort like this. The most important thing for the Bruins was to jump out to an early lead in front of their home crowd. Boston entered the game having led led just 11 minutes and 39 seconds of the series’ first four games. They were able to get a lead at the 13:20 mark of the first period when Carl Soderberg became the sixth Bruins player this season to score his first career postseason goal.
“We’re a pretty good team when we have the lead,” Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask said. “If it’s a three-goal lead or two-goal lead we try to play the same way, and I think today was a pretty good example of that. We never sat back we just kept going and playing our system. It gives you that little bit of breathing room when you have a lead, for sure.”
The Bruins got even more breathing room before some fans returned from the beer lines and restrooms during the first intermission. Boston scored its first postseason power-play goal against the Canadiens since 2009 at the 1:04 mark of the second when Reilly Smith redirected a slap-pass from Dougie Hamilton. Just 32 seconds later, with the Bruins on another power play, Jarome Iginla quickly one-timed a pass from Torey Krug by Carey Price to push the lead to three.
That type of lead is one the Bruins don’t lose. The B’s are now 33-0-0 this season counting both the regular season and playoffs in games where they have a three-goal lead.
That big lead allowed the Bruins to really play the way they wanted. Instead of chasing, the B’s led and dictated play. Boston limited Montreal’s chances, especially in 5-on-5 play, as both of the Habs’ goals came on the power play. The B’s were also able to grind down Montreal with the physical game as they handed out 39 hits in the win.
The hardest win, of course, will be the next one. The Bruins will head back to Montreal with a chance to close out the series on enemy ice in one of the NHL’s toughest buildings. If they play like they did in Game 5, however, they’ll certainly feel good about their chances.