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Bruins vs. Canadiens Never Disappoints

by Angela Stefano / Boston Bruins
BOSTON, MA -- Not to worry, the Boston Bruins/Montreal Canadians feud is still alive and kicking – and swinging, and punching, etc.  It’s not like there was really a doubt – but if there was, last night’s 5-4 overtime win – a bit of a Game Six redux, and perhaps a hint of what lies ahead next week – put it to rest. 

Boston Bruins right wing Mark Recchi, top, celebrates his game-winning overtime goal againstMontreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price (31) during their NHL hockey game in Boston, Thursday April 9, 2009. The Bruins beat the Canadiens 5-4. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
“It’s a heck of a rivalry,” said Mark Recchi, who gave the Bruins the win with an overtime goal a little over halfway through the extra five minutes.  Recchi also had the B’s third goal, a power play goal, at 5:30 of the second period.  “It’s fun; I mean, that’s what hockey’s all about.”

Before the game, the whole team, plus head coach Claude Julien, who was coaching his 400th NHL game, was convinced the Habs were going to give it their all because, to start, just one point – which Montreal earned by forcing overtime with a four-goal second period – would clinch a playoff spot. 

“You know the situation they’re in, so it’s going to make it that much more of a rewarding game if we can win it,” said Marc Savard before the game.  “We know the history between us and them, and if the shoe was on the other foot, they’d be ready.”

There was also the pride factor: the Canadiens had not beaten the Bruins in the TD Banknorth Garden in regulation this season.  However, the B’s still hold a decided edge, with a 5-0-1 record in the season series, and Montreal will surely be out for blood if the two teams meet during the playoffs.

“Once the puck’s dropped in the playoffs, it doesn’t really make a difference,” Coach Julien said, warning that, whether the Bruins face the Habs or, the other potential at this point, the New York Rangers, it’s going to be a tough series.  “Once playoffs start…it’s zero across the board, and you’ve got to look at it as a new season and a new challenge.”

Things started out like they usually do when le bleu, blanc et rouge come to town – they sang “Oh, Canada,” there was so much cheering and booing and “ole, ole, ole”-ing, and the first period ended with a bit of a scuffle.  But the B’s were up 1-0, thanks to a goal from Patrice Bergeron – who joined the puck in the goal, thanks to a shove from Josh Gorges – so all was right in Bruinland.

“All the Montreal media were asking me about how much Bergie’s come along, and I don’t think I have to say that much about him now,” said Julien, shortly after Bergeron assisted on Recchi’s game-winner.  “He’s been really, really good for us in the last six weeks, getting better and being more of an impact player.”

Boston Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart, left, hauls Montreal Canadiens left wing Guillaume Latendresse, right, to the ice during the second period of their NHL hockey game in Boston, Thursday April 9, 2009. At rear left is Canadiens right wing Mathieu Dandenault (25). There were five penalties charged during the fight. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
But the second period – oh, the second period.  There are crazy, penalty-marred games, and then there’s the WWE Smackdown on Ice that occurred last night.  The second period alone lasted nearly an hour and contained just about that many penalty minutes – 54, to be exact, with 25 for the Habs and 29 for Boston.

“That’s the nature of the Bruins and the type of team that we have,” said Recchi.  “We’re big, we’re physical, and we can skate.  And I love the passion.”

Every battle was a big one, but the biggest battle was still for control of the scoreboard.  After beginning strong with the lead, the Bruins were forced to battle back to make it 4-3 as the Habs took advantage of the riled up Boston team and scored all four of their goals for the night, leaving Julien re-assessing his team’s second-period performance.

“At the end of the night, it’s a question of, did you win or lose, not, did you be them up or take a beating,” said Julien, who conceded that he was proud that his team stuck up for each other.  “It was one of those things that we really felt we needed to play much better in the third and give ourselves a chance to win.”

But it was entertaining, said the coach, and quite a way to end the regular-season home games.  The B’s overall home record for this season finishes at 29-6-6, tying for all-time second-best for the club and giving them their best point total since 119 in 1971-72.  It was also their 52nd win of the season, which is the third-best all-time record.

Notes: Phil Kessel’s goal at 3:12 of the second period was his 33rd of the season, the most goals scored by a Bruins since the 2002-2003 season (Glen Murray, 44; Joe Thornton, 36) … Recchi has his third two-goal game as a Bruin, with two goals and two assists, including the game-winner, last night.  He is 7-5-12 in seven of his last 10 games played … Zdeno Chara’s power play goal at 5:27 of the third was his 19th goal of the season, the most scored by a Bruins defenseman since Ray Borque in 1996-1997.
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