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Posted On Friday, 04.15.2011 / 12:04 AM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Boston-Montreal Live Blog

Gionta saves day again

Thanks to the heroics of Carey Price, Brian Gionta's performance was relegated to sidebar material in Thursday's huge 2-0 win for Montreal at TD Garden.

But, there is no denying the impact the Canadiens captain had on the game.

His goal, just 2:44 into the contest was not only a study in opportunism, but it gave Montreal an opportunity to go into its defensive shell and begin the process of strangling the life out of the Bruins.

Gionta then scored a goal with less than three minutes remaining, putting the game out of reach for a Boston team that could not find a way to solve Carey Price on this night.

Scott Gomez, suffering through the most unproductive year of his career, had assists on both goals as he claimed turnovers and sent Gionta on the counter attack.

"I talked to our team and you know in the playoffs your best players have to elevate their game," Montreal coach Jacques Martin said. "I thought that our top players, Gionta and Gomez elevated their game tonight."

The Canadiens, though, have become used to Gionta elevating his game when the team is in need. It's a trait that defenseman Brent Sopel picked up on almost immediately after he arrived in Montreal in late February.

"He was won a Stanley Cup and has scored many goals in New Jersey," Sopel said. "He is a little guy who doesn't give up.  He battles and battles and battles. Obviously, being a leader of this team, he leads and we all follow in his footsteps.  If we keep doing what we are doing and battling the way he does each and every night we are going to be OK."
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Posted On Thursday, 04.14.2011 / 3:51 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Boston-Montreal Live Blog

Price enjoys complete confidence of his team

Last year, Carey Price was the forgotten man in Montreal's push to the Eastern Conference Finals, pushed aside to facilitate Jaro Halak's Cinderella run.

But, now Halak is gone – traded to St. Louis this summer in a highly unpopular move at the time – and Price is the man after a regular season to remember.

But, Price does not have great postseason numbers. He has 19 postseason appearances in his NHL career and has won just 5. He has lost the past 6 postseason games he has played.

Yet, the Canadiens are convinced he can be the man this spring that propels the team on another long run through the playoffs.

"Goalies are always big this time of year and Carey's been awesome," defenseman Hal Gill said.

"Us, as players, have had the treat of having some outstanding goaltending and Carey has been the guy for us all year and we expect the same from him moving forward in the playoffs," added forward Mike Cammalleri.

In fact, Cammalleri believes Price's success now rests in last year's frustration of riding the bench while Halak earned all the accolades.

"I think it started last year for Carey and I said that all along," Cammalleri said. "When Jaro played so well, Carey kind of handled it with a level of maturity that led to success this year. He made a decision at some point last year where he said OK, regardless of what happens, I’m going to get better.

"No one scored on him the last two months of practice and that whole thing led into it this year. I'm a big believer that things don't just happen for no reason and I think he put in the work to get to where he has been this year."
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Posted On Thursday, 04.14.2011 / 3:14 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Boston-Montreal Live Blog

Savard still on Bruins' minds as playoffs open

Marc Savard, sidelined with a concussion, may be away from the Bruins, but he is not far away from the thoughts of the team as the playoffs are about to begin.

Thursday morning, Boston coach Claude Julien said that he speaks to the play-making center every week or so.

"We communicate, and things haven’t changed in his case, and it’s unfortunate for him," Julien said. "I'm sure he's going to be sitting at home and watching these games and wishing he could be part of it because as a player that part of you will never leave.

"And this is the most exciting time of the year, and I know he loved the times that he was in the playoffs. And he was obviously a pretty important part of the success of our hockey club; so will we miss his play? Absolutely. You don't lose an elite player like him and not feel it."

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.13.2011 / 11:52 AM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 ECQF: Boston-Montreal Live Blog

Miracle on ice?

With an eye toward alleviating some of the attention associated with playing the Canadiens in Montreal, the Boston Bruins have come up with a unique solution.

With two days off between Monday's Game 3 and Thursday's Game 4, it seemed natural that Boston might head back to Boston for two days of practice before returning to Montreal on Wednesday night. Instead, the Bruins cut the distance they will have to travel by setting up two days of practice in Lake Placid, N.Y.

The team will practice at the Team USA rink at the Olympic training facility, the same rink that hosted the 1980 Olympics and the thrilling gold-medal triumph by the Americans.

The Bruins don't have many Americans on their roster, but that shouldn't dilute the specialness of this side trip. It will be especially fulfilling for goalie Tim Thomas, the only full-time American on the roster. Thomas grew up as a big fan of the Miracle on Ice team.
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Posted On Sunday, 02.20.2011 / 9:15 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Calgary wins, 4-0

The Flames comntinued red-hot, despite the frigid temperatures at McMahon Stadium.

Calgary defeated Montreal, 4-0, in the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic, thanks to two goals by a dominant Rene Bourque and a 39-save performance by goalie Miikka Kiprusoff.

The game set several records, including most shots by a player (Bourque, 11), saves by a goalie (39, Kiprusoff), and shots by a team in a period (21,Montreal), which broke the record set just a period earlier by Calgary.

With the victory, Calgary improved to 11-1-2 in its past 14 games. As a result of the victory, Calgary jumped back into the playoff picture in the Western Conference, going from ninth place to sixth in the bottleneck that is the West heading down the stretch.
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Posted On Sunday, 02.20.2011 / 9:09 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Record night

The 2011 Tim Hortons Heritage Classic was a record night.

Man of the match Rene Bourque led the way, firing off a record number of shots for an outdoor game by putting 11 pucks on Montreal goalie Carey Price. Two of those shots went in, making Bourque one of just five players to have a record two goals in an outdoor game. Montgreal's Yanic Perreault, Edmonton's Richard Zednik, Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk and Washington's Eric Fehr are the others.

But, Bourque was not the only one firing the puck as the teams set records for most shots in a period and a game. Calgary broke the shots for a period record in the first, taking 19 shots, two more than the record set by Detroit in the third period of the 2009 Winter classic at Wrigley Field. That record, however, only last 20 minutes as Montreal fired 21 shots in the second period.

All that shooting almost set the record for shots by both teams, which was 80. The teams finished with a combined 76 shots.

But, all that shooting did help set anoyther record. Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff stopped all 39 shots he faced in gaining the shutout, the first in the six-game history of outdoor games. The 39 saves broke the mark of Buffalo's Ty Conklin, who stopped 36 Pittsburgh shots in the inaugural Winter Classic in Buffalo.
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Posted On Sunday, 02.20.2011 / 8:54 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Century club for Bourque

Sunday is certainly a day that Rene Bourque will not soon forget. He was the clear man of the match, scoring twice and firing off nine shots in the first 50 minutes of the game, but also the second of his two goals gave him 100 for his career.

Bourque reached 100 goals in 373 games.

The teams switched sides, as advertised, at the 10 minute mark of the third period with Montreal holding a 35-33 adavantage in shots. But, the wind did not hamper Calgary, who scored its fourth goal moments after the switch.

Jarome Iginla made a nifty little saucer pass, especially considering the ice conditions, across the Montreal crease and set up Alex tanguay for an easy tap-in.

Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff has been almost as good as Bourque, stopping the first 35 shots he has faced. The record for an NHL outdoor game is 36, held by Buffalo's Ty Conklin, who made 36 saves in the inaugural NHL Winter Classic. 
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Posted On Sunday, 02.20.2011 / 8:43 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Third period begins

Each team will spend half the third period with the wind at their back, which has been a clear advantage throughout this game. Calgary starts the period with the wind advantage, but will switch sides with Montreal at the 10-minute mark.

Once again, Dan Craig's ice crew scraped and flooded the ice by hand and it looked very good under the football stadium's lights.

The period also started quickly on the ice. The teams went more than five minutes without a whistle, which benefitted Calgary, who holds a 3-0 lead.

By the way, the announced attendance is 41,022 for the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic.
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Posted On Sunday, 02.20.2011 / 8:11 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Two periods done

Calgary leads 3-0 after two periods after Curtis Glencross and Rene Bourque scored second-period goals.

Bourque's goal was his second of the game and 19th of the season. He scored a 5-on-3 goal in the first period with a deft little tap-in.

Almost as impressively, Bourque has nine shots in the first two periods.

Calgary's two goals in the second period came against the run of play as Montreal dominated on the shot clock in the second, out-shooting Calgary 21-11.

That means that Calgary's record of 19 shots, set in the first period, lasted just 20 minutes. Notably, each team set the record while enjoying the wind advantage. After two periods, the teams have combined for 59 shots in two periods with Calgary holding a 30-29 advantage.
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Posted On Sunday, 02.20.2011 / 8:03 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL Heritage Classic chatter

Flames take control

Curtis Glencross almost single-handedly made Calgary's shorthanded goal at 12:44 of the period happen to make it 2-0.

Glencross and Brendan Morrison somehow engineered a 2-on-1 break while Jay Bouwmeester was in the penalty box for tripping Max Pacioretty. Morrison passed to Glencross, but a snap shot from Glencross went wide. Glencross, though, chased down the shot behind the net and skated it into the corner. As he was checked, he slid a backhander to Anton Babchuk, who fired a one-timer past Carey Price.

Then, 122 seconds later, Rene Bourque made it 3-0 with his second goal of the night. Somehow, Bourque was able to corral a bouncing pass from Cory Sarich and get it to settle before he made a sweet deke to force Price commit before tucking the puck in the net.

Bourque is the fifth player to score two goals in an NHL outdoor game. Yanic Perreault, Richard Zednik, Jiri Hudler and Eric Fehr are the other players to turn that trick. Bourque's second goal came on his eighth shot on the night.
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Quote of the Day

There was a lot of talk off the ice. From a player's standpoint, that's not the talk in the room. GMs make decisions, coaches make decisions, but as a team you have to come together and be ready to go, and we are.

— San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels on his team's approach entering training camp