MONTREAL — Changing his lines in the third period paid off for Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien.
Julien moved rising star Tyler Seguin onto a unit with David Krejci and Milan Lucic and it produced the tying and winning goals on its first two shifts as the Bruins downed the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 on Wednesday night.
“We needed to create more scoring chances because we didn’t have many in the first two periods, so we tweaked the lines a bit and the guys responded well,” said Julien as the Bruins improved to 7-1-1 and maintained their hold on first place in the Northeast Division.
“That Krejci line’s been awesome for us but tonight they weren’t able to generate much, so I said, ’Let’s move guys around here and give them a little spark’ and it worked out. Look at Siggy driving the net on that first goal.”
Seguin sneaked in front to take a Krejci pass and lift it over Carey Price to tie the game only 14 seconds into the third period.
The speedy young centre then slipped the puck to the left wing on a rush and Lucic fed it in front. The onrushing Krejci got there just before Montreal centre Tomas Plekanec to tip it in at 2:05.
P.K. Subban scored his first of the season on a second period power play for Montreal, which was stoned by Tuukka Rask while outshooting Boston 11-4 in the opening frame.
The Canadiens (6-3-0) ended a five-game home winning run.
“We played well in the first period, but starting in the second we kind of backed up,” said defenceman Andrei Markov, who picked up his ninth point in as many games. “We stopped playing our game.”
Boston outshot Montreal 23-22.
The Canadiens play Thursday night in Buffalo before facing the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night at the Bell Centre.
Julien called it the best game so far this season for Rask, who has built a 6-1-1 record as the starter while veteran Tim Thomas is on a self-assigned sabbatical. Rask stopped Lars Eller on a breakaway 10 minutes into the game, and got a break in the second when Plekanec was in alone but lost control of the puck and shot it into the corner rather than at the net.
“He’s had the right attitude,” Julien said of his goaltender. “With the high expectations, he’s just doing his job. He’s a normal goaltender, which might be a surprise to a lot of people. But he’s so easy going. There are no issues.”
The Krejci, Lucic and Nathan Horton line has been Boston’s best this season while Seguin went into the game in a slump with only one goal in the first eight games.
“I was feeling snakebitten, but I’m glad one went in and we pulled this one out,” Seguin said. “I feel I’ve been playing decently. I had a couple of goals called back. Things weren’t going in. But we got it going in the third.”
It was a mostly skirmish-free game for the rival teams, who stuck to strong positional hockey other than Montreal’s brief letdown in the third period.
The Canadiens did not allow the Bruins a shot on goal until more than 11 minutes into the game, but solid saves from Rask kept it scoreless.
Subban broke the deadlock at 10:53 of the second with Lucic serving a high-sticking penalty.
The flamboyant defenceman took a pass from Markov and saw his point shot go off Rich Peverley’s stick and past Rask. It was Subban’s first goal and third point in three games since he ended a holdout by signing a two-year contract.