MONTREAL -- P.K. Subban, voted the NHL's best defenseman last season, is putting his stamp all over the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Subban produced his fifth multipoint game of the playoffs with a goal and an assist in the first period Tuesday, and the Montreal Canadiens held on for a 4-2 win against the Boston Bruins in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Second Round series.
Subban, the 2013 Norris Trophy winner, leads NHL defensemen with 11 points in this year's playoffs. He extended his point streak to six games (3-8-11) with his third straight multipoint performance.
"I get all the microphones in my face, but it's a group effort, it's not just me," Subban said.
Tomas Plekanec and Dale Weise scored before Lars Eller hit the empty net with 2.8 seconds remaining, and Carey Price made 26 saves for Montreal. The Canadiens took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series that continues Thursday at Bell Centre (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Subban is the third Canadiens defensemen to have three straight multipoint games in the playoffs, joining Larry Robinson, who accomplished the feat in 1987 and in 1978, when he had a five-game multipoint streak, and J.C. Tremblay in 1971.
"He's a really good hockey player," Price said of Subban. "He's been harnessing his emotions very well and he's been playing really solid hockey. He's really shown why he's the Norris Trophy winner."
Subban had one multipoint game in 26 postseason games prior to this year's playoffs.
Elias said Subban is the first Canadiens defenseman to have a six-game playoff point streak since Robinson did in Montreal's second-round series against the Quebec Nordiques from April 21-May 2, 1985.
"I'm just the beneficiary of the guys playing well around me and supporting me and it starts in goal," Subban said. "Actually it starts with our coaching staff and making sure that everybody's feeling confident and everybody's feeling good about themselves. We're doing it together.
"It's not one or two guys, it's everybody. It starts with [Price] on the ice from our defense to our forwards and we're sticking together. When we have adversity we're sticking together and we're doing the right things, and as a player it's fun to play on teams where you know guys are going to support you whether you make a mistake or not."
Boston coach Claude Julien pulled goalie Tuukka Rask with more than two minutes remaining in the third period, and Jarome Iginla tipped Andrej Meszaros' shot past Price with 2:16 to go to make it a one-goal game.
Patrice Bergeron scored for a second straight game; his goal late in the second period got Boston within 3-1. Rask stopped 22 shots.
The Bruins overcame two-goal deficits in each of the first two games but were unable to come back after trailing 3-0 Tuesday.
"We don't want to get behind," Iginla said. "We believe that if we do get behind we can come back, but nobody's relaxing. Unfortunately in the first period we had an off period and it cost us a lot and we had to come back again, but we can be better. But now this game is behind us. We'll go over it tomorrow, and as the second and third (periods) went on we started building our game again and we're going to need that."
Montreal's special-teams advantage through the first two games in Boston was not a factor in Game 3, when one minor penalty was called against each team.
"We tried to play the game the right way," Bruins center David Krejci said. "We stayed out of the penalty box for a very long time today. We didn't give them many power plays, so that was a positive thing, but we have to play on the edge. It comes back to the first period; I think the game was lost there, even though we had a chance to come back."
The Canadiens, who scored on four of their first nine power-play opportunities in the series, got their chance with the extra man at 8:44 of the third period. But they were unable to take advantage after Carl Soderberg was called for interfering with Price, whose mask was knocked off by the Bruins forward.
Ginette Reno drove the Bell Centre crowd into a frenzy when she performed a stirring a capella rendition of "O Canada." The Canadiens were 2-0 at Bell Centre in their first-round sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning, with Reno performing the Canada national anthem before each home game.
The capacity crowd of 21,273 gasped with delight when Subban found Rene Bourque open at the Boston blue line a minute into the game with a stretch pass from behind the Montreal net. Bourque, who missed Montreal's practice Monday because of illness, failed to convert the opportunity.
Plekanec gave Montreal a 1-0 lead with his third playoff goal at 10:57. Subban dropped the puck along the right boards to Thomas Vanek, who one-timed a slap pass to the left of the net. Plekanec had Rask at his mercy and lifted a shot into a gaping net.
Subban, who scored two power-play goals in the Canadiens' 4-3 double-overtime win in Game 1, was assessed the only penalty called during the first two periods when he was called for roughing at 12:38 for his open-ice hit on Reilly Smith. The Canadiens sustained collateral damage on the hit when Subban collided with Vanek, who went to the dressing room and did not return until the beginning of the second period.
Not only did Boston fall to 0-for-6 with the man advantage in the series when it failed to score on the power play, but Subban came out of the penalty box to take a breakaway pass from Eller. The Canadiens defenseman raced in alone on Rask and deked before firing a forehand into the open right side for his third goal in three games.
"To be honest with you, I was pretty surprised, a little bit nervous, he's a good goalie," Subban said. "Just tried to bury my head, make a move, the puck went in."
The Bruins had a couple of scoring opportunities before the midway point of the second period. Iginla's shot from the right side rang off the left post, and Soderberg misfired from the edge of the crease moments later with Price down on the ice.
Weise increased Montreal's lead to 3-0 with a breakaway goal at 13:52. Canadiens defenseman Mike Weaver blocked a shot, and Daniel Briere fed a long pass up the middle to Weise, who got behind Bruins defensemen Johnny Boychuk and Meszaros.
Weise, who scored in overtime to give Montreal a 5-4 win in its opener against Tampa Bay, went in alone from the Boston blue line and fired a shot between Rask's pads for his second goal of the playoffs.
"They're getting a little bit in behind us and they're getting those passes," Boychuk said. "I mean, that was two breakaway goals. That's usually not like that for us but we'll probably look over it (Wednesday) and we'll try to correct that as soon as possible because we can't let that happen."
Bergeron, who scored the tying goal Saturday in the Bruins' 5-3 come-from-behind win in Game 2, won a faceoff and set himself up to deflect Torey Krug's point shot past Price for his third goal of the playoffs at 17:48.
Canadiens forward Brandon Prust was scratched, with Travis Moen in the lineup for the second time in three games. Defenseman Douglas Murray was paired with Weaver in place of Francis Bouillon in his Montreal playoff debut. Murray got a huge cheer in the first period when his check along the left boards dropped Bergeron to the ice at the Canadiens blue line.
Julien used the same lineup as Game 2.
|Tomas Plekanec (3) ASST: Thomas Vanek (3), P.K. Subban (8)|
1 - 0 MTL
|P.K. Subban (3) ASST: Lars Eller (5), Dale Weise (2)|
2 - 0 MTL
|Dale Weise (2) ASST: Daniel Briere (3), Mike Weaver (2)|
3 - 0 MTL
|Patrice Bergeron (3) ASST: Torey Krug (6), Brad Marchand (5)|
3 - 1 MTL
|Jarome Iginla (3) ASST: Andrej Meszaros (2), Milan Lucic (3)|
3 - 2 MTL
|EN - Lars Eller (3) ASST: NONE|
4 - 2 MTL
|P.K. Subban Roughing against Reilly Smith|
|Carl Soderberg Interference on goalkeeper against Carey Price|