The Bruins have won five straight games after a 4-2 win over the Canadiens on Thursday night at TD Garden.
It was a classic Boston-Montreal matchup with tempers flaring and a hard-fought battle despite the Canadiens not having anything to fight for.
It’s always a good time when these two teams get together. Here are five takeaways from Thursday’s win.
No one hits the captain late
Rem Pitlick quickly learned the Bruins don’t mess around when it comes to Patrice Bergeron. Pitlick laid a late hit on Bergeron in the first period that sent the captain to the ice. Brad Marchand immediately jumped in and took Pitlick down with a few jabs.
Marchand earned himself a double minor, but head coach Jim Montgomery had zero issue with his forward sticking up for Bergeron.
“You don’t hit our captain late,” Montgomery told reporters after the game. “That was a three-second late hit. I loved the fact that Marchand made the guy pay a price for doing it.”
Jake DeBrusk, who has goals in four straight games after lightning the lamp Thursday, echoed Montgomery’s sentiments.
“Two Original Six teams, obviously anytime Bergy gets hit like that we’re going to react,” DeBrusk told reporters. “I actually didn’t see what happened, but you could just see the crowd go nuts, so I knew something was going on. …”
Jeremy Swayman wanted to score
Swayman wanted to become the second Bruins goalie in team history to score a goal after his teammate and best friend Linus Ullmark became the first on Feb. 25. His attempts proved unsuccessful, but it was clear he wanted to make it a three-goal game with an empty netter.
But he did his job between the pipes, stopping 29 shots on a night when the Bruins let the Habs get a lot of shots on their goalie before tightening things up in the third. Swayman was coming off back-to-back shutouts going into Thursday’s game, and even though that streak was snapped at the tail end of the first period, Swayman still stood on his head.
“We just want to do whatever we can to help the team win no matter who is playing when we are playing,” Swayman told reporters.
Both Swayman and Ullmark have been tremendous for the Bruins this season and it would be a good problem for the B’s to have two capable, strong netminders to face opponents when the Stanley Cup playoffs begin. Montgomery isn’t sure if they’ll platoon Swayman and Ullmark, but he’s continuing to rotate the duo for the regular season.
“It’s nice to get a rotation, we’re both getting reps and both having that chance to rest and recover at the same time because we’re preparing for playoffs and we want to make sure every game that we’re getting steps towards that goal,” Swayman told reporters. “So, it’s been an awesome rotation and again, one game at a time.”
Emotions were high
This felt like a classic Bruins-Canadiens game with tensions running high and post-whistle scuffles. But at one point, A.J. Greer let his emotions get the best of him. Toward the end of the first period, Habs forward Mike Hoffman whacked Greer’s stick — something Greer didn’t appreciate — and Greer cross-checked Hoffman, who went down the tunnel shortly after. Greer was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct.
The penalty led to a late goal and although it didn’t matter in the end, it still was a penalty that could have been avoided and Greer has been one of the healthy-scratched forwards due to the depth of the Bruins.
“We talked about playing with emotion, which is great, but not getting emotional,” Montgomery told reporters. “Unfortunately, Greersy that stick rode up. I don’t know if it rode up the stick or the shoulder pad and it cut him. It’s something we can learn from … because you can’t take those kinds of penalties in playoffs.”
Greer will have a hearing Friday with the Department of Player Safety to determine whether he’ll face further discipline.
Bruins still won despite performance
Thursday’s win marked the 55th of the season for Boston and the second time the team has reached that mark in franchise history. It’s been a historic season for the Bruins, to say the least, and they have found ways to win games all year despite not turning in their best performance. That rang true Thursday when the Bruins were outshot by the Habs 11-8 in the first period and 14-6 in the second before tightening things up and only allowing Montreal six shots on net in the third.
“Happy that we got the two points. It’s a tough league to win in. I know we’ve won a lot this year, but it really is,” Montgomery told reporters. “With the schedule as challenging as it is right now, we’re playing four games a week, and it’s four in six nights consecutively for five weeks, we’re not going to have the most energy we usually do have.
“I don’t think we skated very well (Thursday), but it’s understandable at times. You’ve got to give credit to those guys. We find a way to win hockey games. It’s not an easy league to win in and we find ways to do it. That’s the positive side of things.”
David Pastrnak on brink of history
Pastrnak scored his 49th goal of the season Thursday night — a new career high — to put him one shy of 50.
The Bruins have not had a 50-goal scorer since Cam Neely did so during the 1993-94 season. It looked as if Pastrnak was going to reach the milestone when Marchand passed up the empty-net opportunity, but he couldn’t complete the goal.
“Emblematic of this team. They’re incredibly selfless. You see guys sacrifice their bodies blocking shots and you see plays like that,” Montgomery told reporters. “It’s not the first time we’ve seen guys pass up empty-net goals to try and get somebody else, whether they’re trying to get to 20 goals, 50 goals, 800 points, 1,000 points, there’s a lot of milestones this year.”
Pastrnak has the chance to get to 50 goals Saturday when the Bruins welcome the Tampa Bay Lightning to town for a 1 p.m. ET puck drop.