Bruins humiliate Habs in tame affair
Thursday's rematch came 16 days after Chara's hit on Pacioretty
TD Garden, Boston, Mass.
Zdeno Chara (BOS) — 3 assists
David Krejci (BOS) — 3 assists
Nathan Horton (BOS) — 2 goals
There were no bones broken. No teeth loosened. No bench-clearing brawls.
Fans expecting scenes out of Slap Shot were disappointed, because in the end, it was a pretty tepid affair, without even a hint of the goonery made famous in the cult classic hockey film from the 1970s.
Tempers didn't even really flare in what turned out to be a one-sided 7-0 win for the Boston Bruins over the Montreal Canadiens Thursday night, the first meeting between the clubs since the play that transcended the hockey world — Zdeno Chara's hit on Max Pacioretty.
The win left Boston five points ahead of second-place Montreal in the Northeast Division. The Bruins have nine games left, and the Canadiens seven.
Montreal coach Jacques Martin said he didn't expect his players to come out fighting, but did want his team to play better.
"The response is you want to win the hockey game and battle with the Bruins when you are trailing them by three points," he said. "I wouldn't say (it was) a lack of emotion — more a lack of execution."
Boston also downplayed the perceived drama ahead of the game.
East playoff race
|5. Tampa Bay||73||89|
|7. NY Rangers||75||85|
* = earned playoff berth
"I don't know if there were any scores to be settled," Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said. "We came to play. All the other stuff didn't matter. We did a good job all week staying away from all the bull."
The last time the Bruins and Canadiens met, on March 8 in Montreal, Pacioretty was taken off on a stretcher and hospitalized after being ridden into the stanchion near the Boston bench by Chara. Pacioretty remains sidelined after suffering a severe concussion and fractured the fourth vertebra in his neck when his head slammed into the support.
The Canadiens found out last week that Pacioretty could be able to resume skating in a couple of weeks and conceivably return for the playoffs.
The hit divided opinions within the hockey world, especially after the NHL elected not to suspend Chara, deeming it a "hockey play" with a terrible consequence.
All of which set the table for what many believed would be a tense Thursday night in Boston, especially after Bruins forward Mark Recchi suggested the Canadiens "embellished" the severity of Pacioretty's injury and that Montreal tried to get Chara suspended.
But the predicted ill-tempered, bloodbath between these Original Six rivals never materialized, mostly because the Canadiens were too busy playing catch-up from the get-go to even think about seeking retribution for Pacioretty.
The Habs couldn't have got off to a worse start, conceding a goal after 61 seconds when Johnny Boychuk beat goalie Carey Price from in close.
Gregory Campbell and Nathan Horton on the power play also scored to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead going into the first intermission. The Bruins out shot the Canadiens 18-9 in the period, which saw Chara earn assists on the first two goals.
The highlight of the second period came with 17 seconds left in the frame when Boston's Gregory Campbell and Paul Mara of Montreal briefly traded punches in the game's only dustup — compare that to the March 8 contest in Montreal that saw six fights.
Brian Gionta should have put the Habs on the scoreboard early in the third, but managed to fire his shot over an open net.
On the ensuing rush, David Krejci fed a gorgeous pass to Horton who beat Price with a shot high on the glove side at 4:03.
Boston made it 5-0 just 26 seconds later as Adam McQuaid's blast from the point took a deflection and beat Price between his pads.
That was all for Price, as he was promptly pulled and replaced by Alex Auld. Price deserved better, having made 28 saves (many of them spectacular) in front of a Montreal team that did little to support him.
Boston completed the rout with goals by Tomas Kaberle (his first as a Bruin) at 11:27 and Campbell at 13:35 (while playing on a two-man disadvantage).
"I never thought we would do this," Recchi said "(I) thought it would be close."
Chara finished the night with three assists.
Boston goalie Tim Thomas was hardly troubled, required to make 24 saves in earning his eighth shutout of the season.
With files from Associated Press