BOSTON — The Montreal Canadiens emerged victorious over the Bruins on Thursday night at TD Garden.
Habs defenseman P.K. Subban, who scored two power-play goals (including the winner in double overtime) in the Eastern Conference semifinals opener, has seen this movie before, though, so he understands the Bruins aren’t an easy team to eliminate even if trailing early in a Stanley Cup playoff series.
Three years ago, the Canadiens won the first two games at TD Garden to open Round 1, then lost four of the next five. That was Subban’s first career playoff series.
“I don’t think we can even think about winning the series,” Subban said after Game 1. “I mean, a couple years ago we came in here and took two games and went back and we lost in Game 7.
“When there is success, you have to take it and get better. I still think that there are things we need to get better on. We can’t be giving up 50–plus shots, I can tell you that, for the rest of the series. (Carey Price) shouldn’t have to stop that many pucks.”
The Canadiens were fortunate to win Thursday after allowing the Bruins to dominate possession of the puck and fire nearly 100 shots on Habs goaltender Carey Price, who was forced to make 48 saves for his fifth consecutive playoff win.
The Bruins trailed for most of regulation before winger Reilly Smith and D-man Torey Krug scored goals less than four minutes apart early in the third period to tie the score at 2. Boston found itself trailing later in the period when Montreal D-man Francis Bouillon scored his first playoff goal since 2008 (also against the B’s in Round 1), but equalized with 1:58 left in regulation when Johnny Boychuk’s slap shot from the point beat Price.
“Well, it’s great that we won, but listen, I have played against these guys more than a few times over the past couple of years and in the playoffs,” Subban said. “The one thing I can tell you is this is a resilient team. That’s not something that you can say about every team, but against these guys, I have to give them credit. They always battle back. They always find a way to persevere. Tonight, it feels good to be the team that found the way to get it done.”
Since the start of the 2010 playoffs, Boston is 5-1 after losing Game 1 of a series, including this year’s first-round matchup against the Detroit Red Wings. The only defeat was last year’s Stanley Cup Final series against the Chicago Blackhawks, when the Bruins lost in six games after a triple-overtime defeat in Game 1.
This Bruins roster is loaded with Stanley Cup champions and guys who have played in more than 50 postseason games. They understand what it takes to win and won’t be fazed by dropping the series opener at home to their most hated rival.
“This is just game No. 1,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said after Game 1. “You don’t get frustrated after one game. I didn’t mind the way our team played tonight. We had lots of chances. Sure, we fell behind 2-0, but we showed some resiliency and came back, and I thought we carried play for the most part, and obviously in that first OT period. Probably the only thing is, we got to find a way to bury those great opportunities that we had.”