Bruins put Habs in 2-0 hole
Centre Marc Savard starred with two goals and two assists Saturday night as the Boston Bruins dominated the Montreal Canadiens 5-1 in Game 2 of their best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final playoff.
Michael Ryder had a goal and an assist, with Chuck Kobasew and Shane Hnidy also scoring for Boston at TD Banknorth Garden, and goalie Tim Thomas making 30 saves.
Mark Recchi helped set up two goals.
Alexei Kovalev scored for the second consecutive game for the Canadiens, who rested Carey Price in favour of Jaroslav Halak for the third period after falling behind four goals after 40 minutes.
"We walk into their strengths and I think they're a gifted offensive team and when we do that our goalie is going to be put in a vulnerable situation," said Montreal coach Bob Gainey.
Montreal finds itself down two games in the series as the scene shifts to the Bell Centre for Game 3 on Monday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7 p.m. ET).
While the Canadiens entered the Stanley Cup playoffs with a torrid power play, it is Boston that has excelled on special teams.
Bruins pounce on penalties
The Bruins went 3-for-5 on the power play and stayed out of the penalty box. Montreal has had just three power plays so far in the series, failing to score.
"The penalties, to me, seem to be legitimate calls by the referees," said Gainey. "We have enough of a problem handling our opponent, we can't be injuring ourselves by taking penalties or straying away from a plan we have in place we feel will give us the best results."
Alex Tanguay picked up a loose puck deep in Boston's end early in the first for the Canadiens but didn't have enough room to manoeuvre on Thomas, who covered up.
Savard was stopped early by Price's pad save, but he was just getting warmed up. His first goal came at the midway point of the period on Boston's first power-play opportunity.
The Bruins worked the puck from the boards, with Steve Montador and Phil Kessel touching the puck before Savard fired it past a screened Price.
Boston coach Claude Julien praised Savard's competitiveness.
"He's taken a lot of flak in the past for his game being one-sided," said Julien. "He's shown me for the two years that I've been here that he's very capable of a two-way game and playing that well and also produce the points like he did tonight."
Just over five minutes later, Kobasew drove to the net with a rebound lying untouched on the doorstep and buried it behind Price.
Georges Laraque tried to get the Canadiens going, flattening Milan Lucic with a hit, and tempers flared after the next whistle.
"I thought we had a good period," Kobasew told Hockey Night in Canada after 20 minutes. "The stuff after the whistle — our focus is to stay out of it and just play between the whistles and worry about what he have to do."
Price gave his team a chance to come back. He made a huge glove save on Kobasew on a Boston power play late in the first and kicked out his right pad just after the faceoff in the second to deny Zdeno Chara.
As a result, Kovalev made it 2-1 just 46 seconds into the middle period when he found room on the short side of Thomas from the left faceoff circle.
Hnidy restored the two-goal advantage at 5:45, joining the rush as he often did during the season for Boston, beating Price to the blocker side.
The veteran replaced Matt Hunwick in the lineup. Hunwick, 23, took ill Saturday morning at the team's facility and later in the day had his ruptured spleen removed.
"Fortunately, it happened at the rink where the staff was there and they were able to handle it properly," Hnidy told HNIC. "He's able to get the best care. He's such a quality kid and we're such a close-knit team.
"It was hard, but we knew we'd come out tonight [hard]. He had his best wishes with us, so he give us a little extra incentive."
Montreal's defence corps, which played a committed defensive game in the opener without No. 1 man Andrei Markov, began to show the signs of his absence deep into the second game.
Defenceman Francis Bouillon, meanwhile, played just two minutes in the first period before calling it a night.
The Bruins kept applying the pressure, leading to a penalty. Savard got his second on the ensuing power play, finishing a cross-ice give-and-go with Ryder at 8:13 of the period.
Goalie starts scoring play
Maxim Lapierre was one of the few effective Montreal forwards other than Kovalev, but could not beat Thomas on a couple of chances later in the second.
The Bruins goalie lifted the puck up ice to draw an assist on his side's third power-play goal, which came with just three seconds left in the period. Savard was again the creative whiz, flipping the puck to Ryder, who shot past Price's outstretched glove.
"We just moved the puck around well," said Julien. "We moved it fast [and] we looked for seams."
Gainey spared Price any further abuse in the third, putting Halak into the net.
"It was more about the situation in the game," said Gainey. "After two periods we were down 5-1 and the last goal coming so late in the period, I just felt it would be better to let him come out of the game and put Halak in.
"We needed to regroup as a team in the third period … and putting your second, or other goalie into the game can settle things down."
Halak made a save on a hard shot from Lucic, one of his five saves.
There were more hostilities in the third, with Patrice Bergeron dropping Josh Gorges in a scrap.
"I guess I discovered he's a lefty … I think he discovered he's a lefty," joked Julien of the rare Bergeron fight.
Late in the game, Lucic raised his stick as Lapierre closed in, a cross-check that could get the attention of the NHL. Lucic incurred a five-minute penalty, but fittingly, Montreal barely threatened on the power play.
Julien said he hoped the league would understand the context of Lucic's infraction.
"It was certainly not premeditated, it was more about protecting himself," said Julien. "In reviewing, the glove was what hit [Lapierre] in the helmet."
Boston has now won seven of eight this season against the Canadiens, but the franchise knows too well that Montreal can come back. The Habs have won 24 of the 31 playoff series between the clubs, including the last three.