P.K. Subban scored in the second overtime period and Carey Price was superb in goal as the Montreal Canadiens held off the hard-charging Boston Bruins for a wild 4-3 win in the opening game of their second-round playoff series Thursday.
Subban’s second power-play goal of the game came from the point through traffic at four minutes 17 seconds, silencing the sellout crowd. Matt Bartkowski was in the box for holding.
Down 2-0 after 40 minutes, Boston came on strong in the third to force overtime.
Boston threw everything it had at Price, who kept the Canadiens in it while extending the wild ride of a game. Price combined brilliance with a little luck in holding back the rampant Bruins.
“It was a battle,” said Price. “It was exactly what we were expecting. We just gutted it out. It was a hard-fought game that could have gone either way.”
A surging Boston nearly won it in the first overtime when a puck leaked through Price’s pads but somehow deflected off the post through the crease. A pad save by Price saved the day later in the period and the sprawling Montreal goalie robbed David Krejci on a backhand from in close minutes later.
Tuukka Rask stopped Lars Eller at the other end to extend the game. Then Habs winger Brendan Gallagher cleared the puck out of the crease to keep the Bruins out.
Boston outshot Montreal 14-6 in the first overtime period for a 50-29 overall edge. The final count was 51-33.
“This is just Game 1 here. You don’t get frustrated after just one game,” said Boston head coach Claude Julien. “I didn’t mind the way our team played tonight. We had lots of chances. Sure we fell behind 2-0 but we showed some resiliency and came back. I thought we carried the play for the most part.”
The second overtime opened with Boston’s Daniel Paille in the box for tripping but the Habs failed to take advantage. Rask had to be sharp soon after though to glove a Tomas Plekanec shot from the slot.
It had looked like veteran defenceman Francis Bouillon’s knuckleball goal at 12:09 of the third would be enough to help the shell-shocked Canadiens stave off the Boston comeback as Montreal went ahead 3-2. But the Bruins continued to throw everything at the Habs and Johnny Boychuk’s blast from the point with 1:58 remaining continued Boston’s tsunami-like late rally.
Reilly Smith and Torey Krug had scored early third-period goals to pull Boston even at 2-2 before Bouillon’s shot from the top of the faceoff circle, on a rare Montreal attack in the period, handcuffed Rask. It was just the third career playoff goal for the 38-year-old Bouillon.
Boston outshot Montreal 14-6 in the third and 36-23 over three periods.
Subban and Rene Bourque scored in the first and second periods for Montreal, which made the most of its offensive opportunities while riding the broad shoulders of Price against a Boston team that spent much of the night on attack without much to show for it. Price made a string of key saves, including some keys stops late in the game — a few of which he didn’t know too much about.
It was a nail-biting finale, however, as Boston turned the screws on the Canadiens. Smith finally beat Price on Boston’s 24th shot, firing a shot from near the boards through the legs of a Habs defenceman and through two players tangled up in front of the Montreal goal at 2:44 of the third period.
Subban went to the box for interference 34 seconds later but the Canadiens survived. Only briefly, however.
A trailing Krug, on a nice setup from Milan Lucic as his linemates crashed the goal, beat Price with a slapshot at 6:30 on Boston’s 25th shot.
Montreal was living dangerously as Bruins circled Price’s goal like sharks. Lucic missed a near open goal midway through the third only to see Bouillon score at the other end as Montreal crashed the next and the puck found its way back to the defenceman.
Both teams were well rested coming in.
The Canadiens were off for eight days, having completed a sweep of the Tampa Bay Lighting on April 22. The Bruins’ last game was April 26 when they dispatched the Detroit Red Wings in five games.
Montreal holds a 24-9 edge overall in playoff series between the two but Boston has won six of the last nine. Boston.com celebrated the history by publishing a gallery of “30 pictures of Bruins and Canadiens beating the hell out of each other.”
The game, the opening salvo of the second round of the playoffs before a sellout crowd of 17,565, started at a high pace with few stoppages and the Bruins pressing after taking the ice to a sea of yellow rally towels and trademark over-the-top anthem renditions from Rene Rancourt.