The home-and-home series against their reeling rivals was supposed to be the chance for Boston to get its season back on track. Instead, the Bruins lose both games and have drifted further off course than anyone ever could have imagined coming into the season.
The Bruins now stand at 3-7-0 this season and will remain mired in the Eastern Conference basement. They'll get their next chance to rebound Tuesday at home against Ottawa.
Third Period, 19:05, Canadiens 3-2: The Bruins pull within one as Tyler Seguin scores off a scramble in the slot in the final minute.
Third Period, 18:48, Canadiens 3-1: The Bruins use their timeout, trying desperately to come up with a way to get back into this one in the closing moments.
Third Period, 18:14, Canadiens 3-1: The Bruins have the extra attacker on the ice as Rask comes out of the net.
Third Period, 15:20, Canadiens 3-1: The Bruins trying some new line combos here in the third to get something going. Marchand and Horton are now down with Kelly, with Paille in Marchand's Spot and Peverley in Horton's.
Third Period, 11:14, Canadiens 3-1: Ference with a nice play to break up a 2-on-1. The Bruins are forced to take chances now to try to get back in this one, which will give Montreal opportunties for odd-man breaks like that. Corvo was caught up ice after joining a rush there.
Third Period, 9:32, Canadiens 3-1: The Bruins haven't given Rask much support once again, but Rask continues to bail them out and keep Boston within striking distance. He robs Eller on a one-timer off a great feed from Andrei Kostitsyn to keep it a two-goal game.
Third Period, 5:38, Canadiens 3-1: The Bruins kill off Horton's costly penalty and the sides are back at even strength.
Third Period, 3:38, Canadiens 3-1: The Bruins squander that chance, but not before Krejci rings the iron yet again on the two-man advantage.
Nathan Horton then takes a foolish cross-checking penalty in a battle with Hal Gill costing the Bruins the rest of their power-play time. It will be 4-on-4 for 32 seconds, then another Montreal power play.
Third Period, 2:09, Canadiens 3-1: The Bruins have a golden chance to get back into the game as Brian Gionta is called for tripping Joe Corvo at the point. the Bruins will have a 5-on-3 advantage for 56 seconds. Montreal uses its timeout to rest its penalty killers.
Third Period, 1:05, Canadiens 3-1: The Bruins finally get a power-play chance of their own as Lars Eller is called for tripping up Greg Campbell.
Third Period, 0:51, Canadiens 3-1: The Bruins kill off Lucic's penalty and can now get to work on trying to come back in this one.
Third Period, 0:00, Canadiens 3-1: The final frame is under way with the Bruins looking to rally from a two-goal deficit. They'll have to kill off the final 51 seconds of Milan Lucic's slashing penalty first.
Second Intermission Notes: The Bruins finally scored their second goal with Tuukka Rask in net. It only took them eight periods to do it. They'll need at least two more in the third to get even a point out of this game as they head to the third trailing 3-1.
Montreal also leads in shots 24-16. Their total has been helped by five power plays, while the Bruins' shot count has been limited by Montreal's 20-7 edge in blocked shots. The Habs defense has been even more effective at shutting down the Bruins than Carey Price, though Price has been solid when necessary.
Rask has been solid as well, but has been besieged most of the night. Even though the Bruins' power play is hardly a lethal threat, it would help if the Bruins ever do get a chance with the man advantage. They've yet to get a power play in this one.
End Second Period, Canadiens 3-1: The second frame is over and the Bruins finally got on the board, but they didn't get any close as Montreal also added a goal to head to the third with a two-goal advantage and 51 seconds left on their fifth power-play chance of the night.
Second Period, 18:51, Canadiens 3-1: The Bruins will be shorthanded yet again as Subban draws another penalty. This time it's a slashing call on Lucic.
Second Period, 18:05, Canadiens 3-1: Max Pacioretty comes in alone on a breakaway, but Rask comes way out of the net for a sliding pokecheck to break up the bid.
Second Period, 16:28, Canadiens 3-1: The Bruins finally get on the board as Milan Lucic scores on a blast from the right circle.
With David Krejci hounding him, Lars Eller coughed up the puck to Nathan Horton, who fed it over to Lucic for the shot.
Second Period, 12:24, Canadiens 3-0: The Bruins come within one second of surviving the back-to-back penalties, but Montreal strikes just before Ference can come out of the box.
David Desharnais is allowed to skate into the slot untouched and pounces on a loose puck for the crushing goal.
Second Period, 10:25, Canadiens 2-0: The Bruins are in real trouble now as Ference is called for roughing, putting then down two men for 17 seconds. Ference gave P.K. Subban a pop after the whistle trying to get free of the Habs defenseman, who embellished the shot with an exaggerated head snap to help draw the call.
Second Period, 8:41, Canadiens 2-0: The Bruins are shorthanded again, this time with Dennis Seidenberg sent off for holding. It's the third power play of the night for Montreal. The Bruins have yet to have a chance with the man advantage.
Second Period, 7:45, Canadiens 2-0: The gloves finally come off as Shawn Thornton and Travis Moen engage in a quick fight.
The altercation began when Eller took a shot after an offsides call and the Bruins took exception, with McQuaid giving him a pop. Moen charged in to rescue Eller, but Thornton cut him off and didn't give him a choice about fighting. It was a pretty even exchange ended when Thornton's jersey came up over his head.
Second Period, 6:15, Canadiens 2-0: The Habs threaten again with a 2 on 1, but Rask stops Andrei Kostitsyn shot from the left side. Chara and Moen become involved in front after the whistle as tempers appear to be getting shorter and shorter as the frustrations mount for the Bruins.
Second Period, 3:09, Canadiens 2-0: Things get a little heated as Lars Eller crashes into the net, drawing the wrath of McQuaid while Lucic and Travis Moen shove behind the net. No penalties come from that minor dustup.
Second Period, 1:49, Canadiens 2-0: The Bruins kill off the penalty and are back at full strength. That's the first step needed to try to claw back into this one.
Second Period, 0:00, Canadiens 2-0: The middle frame is under way in Montreal, and the Bruins need a much better period to get back into this one. They'll have to kill off the final 1:49 of Andrew Ference's kneeing penalty to start the period though.
First Intermission Notes: After a decent start with some energy early, there wasn't much to like about that first period from the Bruins.
The Bruins not only trail 2-0, but have been outshot 12-8. Part of that stems from Montreal's stronger commitment in getting in shooting lanes, as the Habs have nine blocked shots to just two for Boston. The Bruins have also had some bad luck with Rich Peverley and Brad Marchand each hitting posts. A couple inches on either shot and this could be a very different game right now.
The Bruins are also just 9-13 on faceoffs (41 percent), with Chris Kelly and David Krejci each 1-3. Even the usually reliable Patrice Bergeron has lost more than he's won at 4-5. The Bruins need better puck possession, and that starts with the draws. The lone positive has been the Bruins' physical play. they have a 15-6 edge in hits, with Dennis Seidenberg (3 hits) and Milan Lucic each delivering big shots.
Adam McQuaid continues to look rusty in his second game back from a neck injury. He's minus-1 with no shots and a giveaway in 3:59. He was also on the ice for Montreal's power-play goal.
End First Period, Canadiens 2-0: A period that started promising before taking an ugly turn is finally over, but not before Montreal took a 2-0 lead and Andrew Ference took a late kneeing penalty with 11 seconds left. The Habs will have another 1:49 of power play time at the start of the second.
First Period, 18:46, Canadiens 2-0: The Bruins' first line with some chances, as Lucic and Horton each have bids from the top of crease. Rrice stops both, then turns aside another Lucic shot later in the shift.
First Period, 16:42, Canadiens 2-0: The Canadiens strike again quickly to double the lead.
This time it's Lars Eller with the strike from the left circle past Rask.
First Period, 15:26, Canadiens 1-0: The Canadiens convert the power-play chance, as Tomas Plekanec continues to kill the Bruins.
This time he scores on a blast from the point through a mass of bodies in front after Subban made a nice play to keep the puck in the zone.
First Period, 14:11, 0-0: The Bruins will be shorthanded as Johnny Boychuk gets called for the first penalty of the night. He goes off for holding despite the fact that the Habs appeared to go offside before the infraction.
First Period, 13:44, 0-0: Another near miss for the Bruins, with Brad Marchand hitting the post this time on a wrister from the high slot that beat Price cleanly. That's the second shot the Bruins have put off the iron.
First Period, 13:20, 0-0: The Canadiens are starting to carry the play a bit. They're outshooting Boston 9-2 but Rask continues to look sharp early.
First Period, 12:17, 0-0: Erik Cole has created a few chances early for the Canadiens, but Rask has been up to the challenge and turned away a bid from the right side earlier and a poke from the left slot there.
First Period, 8:45, 0-0: Excellent pace in this one with both teams trading chances. Lots of end-to-end action with few whistles. Bruins appear far more engaged in this one than in their recent efforts. Still have to find a way to convert that into goals though.
First Period, 3:54, 0-0: Milan Lucic with a big hit on Lars Eller behind the Montreal net. The Bruins need Lucic to get back to his dominant physical presence. That's been absent far too much this season, but an early hit like that is a good sign.
First Period, 1:53, 0-0: Rich Peverley comes within inches of getting a huge early goal as he clangs the post on a backhander in front as he drives to the net.
First Period, 1:00, 0-0: Solid first shift from the fourth line, keeping the puck in deep in the Habs zone and putting some pressure on Montreal.
First Period, 0:00, 0-0: The action is under way in Montreal, where the Bruins are looking to finally get things going in the right direction and snap a two-game losing streak, while the Habs try to extend a two-game winning streak of their own.
7 p.m.: The Bruins will start the fourth line in this one. They need Daniel Paille, Greg Campbell and Shawn Thornton to create some energy early, but can't afford to spend too much time in the box. Andrew Ference and Johnny Boychuk start on defense, with Tuukka Rask in goal.
The Canadiens counter with their fourth line of Mathieu Darche, ex-Bruin Petteri Nokelainen and Mike Blunden, with Jaroslav Spacek and Yannick Weber on the blue line and Carey Price in net.
6:55 p.m.: Defenseman Alexei Emelin is the healthy scratch for Montreal. Forward Scott Gomez also remains out with an upper-body injury.
6:50 p.m.: The Bruins have scratched Steven Kampfer on defense as expected. Benoit Pouliot is out up front. He has been sick and missed practice Friday and did not travel with the team to Montreal.
6:30 p.m.: Tuukka Rask led the Bruins onto the ice for warm-ups at the Bell Centre. He'll get the start in this one to try to get the Bruins back on track.
Carey Price led the Habs onto the ice and will be in goal again for Montreal.
6:20 p.m.: The Bruins will look to snap out of their early-season funk with their first trip to Montreal this season to complete a home-and-home series.
They'll do it with some new lines that feature some familiar pairings after Claude Julien shuffled the lines again at Friday's practice. Last year's top line of David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton is back together, while Tyler Seguin is now with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
Benoit Pouliot did not make the trip after missing Friday's practice, leaving Jordan Caron to play with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley on the third line. Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg could also see more time together on the blue line as the Bruins try to get their season back on track. A full rundown of the projected lineups can be found here.
8 a.m. ET: The first meeting with the hated Habs was supposed to snap the Bruins out of their early-season funk.
Instead, it just added to the misery as Boston fell 2-1 to the Canadiens in the front end of a home-and-home series Thursday at the Garden.
Now the Bruins head into hostile territory in Montreal looking to salvage a split in the two-game set Saturday night at the Bell Centre.
"It's the first time in Montreal, their fans are pretty wild," Bruins forward Brad Marchand said. "This is a must win for us, so we have to make sure that we go in ready to go, ready to battle. They're going to come out hard too, so it's going to be a battle for sure."
The Bruins have fallen from their Stanley Cup championship high in June to last place in the Eastern Conference just four months later. While there are still 73 games the play, the Bruins have already left too many points on the board with their 3-6-0 start and know they can't afford to allow this slide to continue any longer.
"Historically we've been a really good team with our backs against the wall," Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said. "I hope we can continue that trend here, because our backs are against the wall right now. It's not push the big red panic button time, but our backs are against the wall and we have to get going the other way."
The Bruins tried to get things turned around in practice Friday with a high-tempo practice with lots of battle drills. Claude Julien also switched up the lines again, reuniting Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Nathan Horton, while moving Tyler Seguin onto a line with Patrice Bergeron and Marchand. With Benoit Pouliot missing practice and questionable for Saturday's game with an illness, Jordan Caron skated on the third line with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley, and the fourth unit of Thornton, Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille remaining together.
"Nobody else can do it for us," Thornton said. "We had a really good tempo out there [in practice Friday], I think the guys were really focused, and if we can carry that into [Saturday] and on, then great."
The puck drops at 7 p.m., so check back here for updates on all the action.