There were no big surprises in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarter-final playoff series between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.
The Habs served up deep, balanced offence to overpower the Bruins 4-1 in Thursday's series opener, posting their 12th win in a row versus their Northeast Division rival.
Eighth-seeded Boston will rally to break the pattern in Game 2 at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Saturday (7 p.m. ET, CBC, CBCSports.ca).
It took the Canadiens only 34 seconds to assert their offensive might on Thursday, as rookie Sergei Kostitsyn kicked off what many fans expect will be a successful bid for the 2008 Stanley Cup.
Brother Andrei Kostitsyn followed a minute and a half later, making the pair the third-fastest siblings to score goals in NHL playoff history. Only Bill and Bun Cook of the New York Rangers (1933) and Pete and Frank Mahovlich (1973), also of the Canadiens, have scored faster.
"We could not have asked for a better start than the one we got — two quick goals," Canadiens forward Christopher Higgins said.
Four players notched a goal apiece for the Canadiens, with Tom Kostopoulos and former Bruin Bryan Smolinski providing the icing.
It was a typical performance for Montreal, which registered a league-high 262 goals in 2007-08, with nine players posting double digits in that field. They dominated the season series against Boston by a score of 39-16.
"It is not disrespecting to them, but we have played really well against them all year," Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said. "The guys came in nervous — anxious to start — but with a lot of confidence."
Playoff rookies get taste of Habs mania
Rookie goaltender Carey Price looked characteristically cool on Thursday, though he faced only 18 shots on the night.
Price, Kostopoulos and the Kostitsyns were making their NHL playoff debuts.
"It was really loud out there, as usual," Price said. "You could hardly hear yourself think and almost don't have enough time to be nervous."
With memories of 1993 and 1989 still fresh, the Habs' fan base is fired up with the prospect of a league-high 25th Stanley Cup. Montreal firefighters even caused a stir by painting their front doors red and blue.
"It was a really good start," Price added. "We brought a lot of energy."
The former world junior star has been the talk of the league since buttressing Montreal during the team's rise to the top of the Eastern Conference. He has won his last eight starts, posting a clean 2.00 goals-against average during that stretch.
Between the pipes at the visiting end, Tim Thomas stopped 28 shots in his post-season debut for Boston.
"We knew they were going to come out like that," he said after the game. "We expected the crowd to be crazy — this is Montreal.
"We thought we were ready for it. But we weren't."
Thomas gave a fair performance, stopping most initial shots but giving up a few costly rebounds.
Shane Hnidy notched the Bruins' lone goal in the first frame, but his team never recovered from the early setbacks as the Habs continued to bring a hard forecheck and physical play.
"Their physicality was a testament to how badly they wanted to win the game," Bruins head coach Claude Julien said.
The Canadiens have history on their side in this playoff matchup. The team has triumphed in 23 of 30 series with Boston, including the last two in 2002 and 2004.
Canadiens captain Saku Koivu remained sidelined with a broken left foot on Thursday, but is expected to return before the end of the round-one series.
The teams travel to Boston on Sunday for Game 3 of the best-of-seven series (7 p.m. ET, CBC, CBCSports.ca).