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Game Day: Canadiens vs. Bruins

by John Bishop & Angela Stefano / Boston Bruins

Third Period: 
Big Zee delivers.

With 8:45 remaining, and on a power play, Zdeno Chara whips one past Price to make it 3-2 and claim the first win in this Habs-B’s playoff series.

0:00 - Bruins win. And then, again, another scrum. With Komisarek and Hunwick being the "main" attraction.

13.4 - Kessel scored and the Habs each took a dance partner after Lapierre went after Kessel.  A mess, but the B's are up 4-2. Matching penalties.

24.4 - And again...

1:16 - Puck is cleared -- again.

2:02 - Puck is cleared to center ice, but ends up out of the rink.

2:42 - Another save by Thomas with traffic in front.

2:57 - Timmy with a scoop save. He holds on for the draw. Axelsson returns.

3:55 - Save by Thomas.

5:47 - Axelsson blocks a shot and gingerly makes his way to the Boston bench.

6:13 - Kessel hits the post!

7:05 - Kobasew comes close.

8:45 - Goal Boston. Chara. Great timing! It's 3-2. His 5th career playoff goal.

9:04 - Awwww. Post. That looked very close. But replay shows that it was a post. Nice recovery Price.

9:48 - Montreal penalty. B's back on the PP. Gorges for cross checking.

10:40 - Faceoff. Montreal zone.

12:07 - Hunwick tests Price. The goalie kicked it away.

12:04 - Thomas holds on for another whistle.

13:26 - Wideman throws one on net and Price hangs on...

14:00 - Handpass, Boston. Faceoff in the B's zone.

14:59 - Icing Boston.

15:30 - Another scoring attempt by Montreal. Shots are 26-26. Yeesh.

16:06 - Icing Boston.

16:17 - Timmy takes one right in the B and hangs on.

17:17 - Nice save Carey. After Lucic pried the puck away and it went to the slot, a shot through traffic found its way into Price's glove.

18:07 - Metro put a shot on Tim that went wide, but bounced to the side of Thomas' goal. He holds on.

19:45 - It's an official sellout. Thanks New England!

20:00 - Start of the Third. Hold on to your hats...
Second Period:
It’s all down to one period. Win it, and win the game.

With only 2:23 remaining in the second stanza, Kovalev fired one up and over Thomas’ shoulder to make this a 2-2 game.

Shots are 25-22, B's. Milan Lucic's four hits leads the game.

0:00 - End of the Second. It's all tied up, 2-2.

2:23 - What a shot! Kovalev, stationed to Tim's left, tattooed the puck by Thomas and into the net above his left shoulder. Almost a carbon copy of his goal last Thursday. Man, what a bullet! It's 2-2. Assists to Koivu and Gorges.

3:32 - Shortstop catch by Thomas. He holds on for the faceoff.

4:30 - Yelle goes to the box for being pushed into Price (or goalie interference).

5:18 - This one was on goal. Price smothered it. Shots are 24-16.

5:21 - A shooting gallery for Boston, but not on net -- as of yet.

6:28 - Chara shot from the point. Recchi is there for the rebound, but there was none to be had.

7:19 - Plekanec (elbowing) is in the box and he is angry. Boston is back on the PP.

8:10 - Save by Thomas on Metropolit on a two-on-one breakaway for Montreal.

8:45 - Offsides Montreal.

9:53 - "Unhappy words" are exchanged between Georges Laraque and Zdeno Chara, again.

11:21 - Early whistle on a Price save that was not yet covered. The crowd enjoys the bobble and gives Price the business. "Carey. Carey. Carey."

12:04 - Big hit by Lucic on Metropolit. "Looooooooooooooooooooch," said the crowd.

13:45 - What a save. Thomas dove to his right to rob the Habs of a goal. Gorgeous.

14:29 - Hmrlik shoots, Thomas saves. Tim held on for the draw.

15:20 - Axelsson dumps deep and follows up with a big hit on Brisebois.

15:48 - Bergeron in the box for hooking.

16:27 - Icing Montreal.

16:45 - A slow start to this period. Thomas has had to be pretty alert to keep the B's in the lead.

17:26 - Price was quick on a rebound off a Thornton shot. Ryder was right there.

18:52 - Laraque put a shot on Thomas that the Tank shouldered away...

19:26 - Shot by Bergeron. Save Price.

20:00 - Start of the Second Period. This place is hopping.
First Period: For the 32nd postseason, the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens faced off tonight at the TD Banknorth Garden in front of a huge crowd of mostly Black & Gold supporters.

B’s forward Phil Kessel picked up a rebounded shot in front of Montreal goaltender Carey Price with 6:49 to go in the first to give the home team the early lead. David Krejci got the primary assist on that one.

But Krejci wasn’t done there. Ninety seconds later he tallied another point on the night at 5:19 and put the Bruins in a comfortable 2-0 lead.

It wouldn’t be a true Habs-Bruins match up without a little bit of drama, however. A Canadiens rush on Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas finally resulted in one that found the back of the net.

The Chris Higgins goal at 3:41 was the result of multiple attempts, with all but one being knocked out by Thomas.

Shots for the period are 15-9 in favor of the Bruins.

0:00 - End of the First.

14.0 - Nice centering pass by Recchi, but no B's could get their stick on it.

54.0 - Tim pounced on a D'Agostini rebound and held on for the draw.

1:45 - Offsides Boston.

3:41 - Thomas made a nice save on Tanguay, but Higgins found twine and made the score 2-1, Boston. Shots are 12-7, B's.

5:19 - Krejci scored. He beat Price over the blocker side. "Carey. Carey. Carey," from the crowd. Assists to Ryder and Lucic.

5:39 - Laraque went too close to Thomas on his last save and Chara and BGL have words.

6:49 - Kessel picked up the garbage and put it in the basket. Kessel found a rebound in front and skated to his left and had about an hour to put the puck behind Price. Helpers to Krejci and Kobasew.

8:56 - Hamrlik tripped Lucic, which sent the big man into the boards. B's have their second PP. They are 0/1.

9:26 - Near miss by Krejci. Shots are now 7-3, Boston.

9:58 - Offsides Boston...

11:16 - Icing Boston. Hey, the NHL just let me know that they have a French language blog here.

12:18 - Laraque and Lucic jaw at each other behind the B's goal. The Boston U. hockey team is being announced to the crowd. BU won the NCAA Championship last Saturday and was there. Check out our blog here and our photo gallery here.

13:54 - Icing Montreal.

14:10 - Offsides on Boston. Shots are 3-3.

15:09 - Three straight shots by Boston...

16:29 - Some jitters on the PP for the B's.

17:23 - B's going on the PP. Looked like a hook on Plekanec.

18:08 - Price hops on a rebound in front of his net. No shots by Boston, yet.

18:49 - Another save by Thomas, who has been tested, early.

19:09 - Ironically, Tim's first stop is on Metropolit.

19:57 - Montreal wins the first draw. Stoppage.

20:00 - Start of the First. Not much red in the building. Just lots and lots of Black & Gold.

Montreal Starters:
Tanguay, Koivu, Kovalev, Dandenault, Gorges, Price
Boston Starters: Recchi, Bergeron, Kobasew, Chara, Ward, Thomas

Let's switch to time on the clock...

6:59 p.m.
Pregame ceremonies have begun, with the outset being a huge banner, unfurled at center ice, which says, "We Want It."

6:38 p.m.
The lines look like...


Bitz, Ference, Hnidy

6:31 p.m.
Carey Price and Tim Thomas led their respective teams out of the locker rooms.

6:15 p.m. reports the Habs lines:
A. Kostitsyn-Plekanec-D'Agostini
S. Kostitsyn, Stewart, O'Byrne, Weber

6:13 p.m.
Press Box Notes
During the six regular season meetings between the two clubs, Boston compiled a 5-0-1 record. Captain Zdeno Chara was the team’s leading scorer in these six contests with 3-3-6 totals. Marc Savard (3-2-5), David Krejci (2-3-5) and Stephane Yelle (2-3-5) each tallied five points apiece in the six regular season games against Montreal. For the Canadiens, Andrei Kostitsyn (2-2-4) and Andrei Markov (0-4-4) each had four points to lead Montreal during regular season play against Boston.

Other stories...
  • For the Bruins, Byron Bitz, Matt Hunwick and Blake Wheeler are looking to play in their first career NHL playoff games.
  • Defenseman Andrei Markov did not travel with the Canadiens to Boston and is expected to miss tonight’s game due to an undisclosed injury. Markov finished second on the team in points this year with 12-52-64 totals. For Boston, Andrew Ference will be absent from the Bruins lineup with an undisclosed injury.
  • The Bruins and Canadiens are meeting for the 32nd time in postseason play, the most playoff series of any two NHL opponents. The Canadiens own a 24-7 lifetime record against the Bruins in the playoffs, and have won the last three postseason series against Boston. The next win for Montreal over Boston will be the 100th in their history, as Montreal has a 99-60 lifetime record versus the Bruins in postseason play.
  • The Bruins are hosting a number of fan initiatives to celebrate their first home game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, including a "Playoff Takeoff Fan Fest," presented by Jet Blue, and an opportunity for fans to win a luxury suite for 14 to Game 2 of the Bruins/Canadiens series. Additionally, the Bruins will recognize the newly crowned NCAA National Champion Boston University men’s hockey team during the first intermission of Thursday’s game. For more information see the press release located behind section N17.
  • Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference announced earlier today that he will be donating  half of his 2008-09 playoff bonus to the New England Grassroots Environmental Fund’s “Boston Grant Initiative.” The total amount of the donation will depend on the Bruins’ success throughout the playoffs. The longer their postseason run, the greater the contribution from Ference. Ference is actively involved in a number of environmental causes and chose to contribute to an organization demonstrating the ability to have a profound positive impact on the environment within the Greater Boston area. The Boston Grant Initiative awards funding to groups working at the neighborhood or city level on environmental health, environmental justice or green space initiatives in Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea, and Somerville. The program began in 2004 to support local activists in the Greater Boston Area. Over the past five years, it has awarded 90 grants ranging from $500 – $10,000 to support local environmental efforts.

6:00 p.m.
How to sit players
Julien also talked about the reality that he will have to sit at least one forward and one defenseman tonight.

"We’ve talked about that," he said.  "We addressed that a long time ago.  We addressed that once the trade deadlines were done.

"This is our team, and obviously there’s too many players to put them all in the lineup, but there’s going to come a point where everybody’s going to have to play, and they just have to stay ready.

"Our team is really focused on what’s important for the team.  They’re willing to make the sacrifices that are needed in order for our team to be successful, so I don’t think that’s going to be an issue," he said. 

However, Julien doesn't want anyone to be relieved or happy about a seat in the pressbox.

"It doesn’t mean it’s easy to accept," he said. "I think I’d be disappointed if a player just said, oh, that’s ok.

"It shouldn’t be ok, but, I’ll be ready when you need me, that’s all I need to hear."

5:47 p.m.
Focused on tonight...
Coach Julien spoke very clearly about his feelings about the series.

"We’ve always had the attitude all year that we’ve always gone one game at a time," he said. "Even when things were going well when we were on that hot streak and got ourselves in first place, we never really looked any further than the next game.

"We were really a team that seems to do better when we focus on short-term goals, and right now, I’ve said all week, we’re not going to change our philosophy.

"Our way of playing has been successful for our team all year.  There’s no real big secret to our game plan here.  We don’t plan on changing much."

4:43 p.m.
Thoughts from the crease...
Manny & Tim
Clearly the yoga is working for Tim Thomas because while the media in the B’s locker room were all abuzz about tonight’s match-up, the goalie was, for lack of a better word, mellow.

“Last year, we saw that eight and number one doesn’t make that big of a difference – it’s your performance in the playoffs that makes the difference,” said Thomas.  “We’re cautious, and we know that we have a lot of work left to do.  It’s not a gimme.”

And while Timmy had a stellar regular season, he, like the rest of the locker room, is aware none of it matters now.

“A dream can turn into a nightmare easy if you don’t put the work and sacrifice in to get the job done,” he said.  “I don’t think a lot of stuff we’ve accomplished this year means anything unless you keep accomplishing it.

“That’s the way hockey works – what have you done for me lately?”

The other half of the William M. Jennings Trophy-winning duo, Manny Fernandez, has his own way to get ready.

“[Timmy]’s the kind of guy that doesn’t build it up, and he just kind of relaxes and plays his game,” Fernandez said.  “He just feels like everything’s in order, and he just feels good about himself.

“I’ve got to build it up.  It’s different; it’s like going into a war for me,” he said.  “Everybody lives it differently.”

No matter how the players feel individually, though, they have to remember their teammates.

“All this media’s going to clear out, and there’s going to be 24 guys remaining in this room,” Fernandez said.  “I think we just want to be accountable to each other.  That’s pretty much the only pressure we put on ourselves.”

And it’s going to be a team effort to get a win tonight.

“I don’t care about goals against, save percentage [from the regular season],” said Thomas.  “I’m just looking for wins, one way or another.  However we get them.  It doesn’t really matter.”

3:18 p.m.
Gainey on Laraque
Montreal Canadiens coach Bob Gainey stands behind Georges Laraque, left, and Saku Koivu, as he looks up at the clock during the final minutes of their game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 11, 2009 in Montreal. The Penguins beat the Canadiens 3-1. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Paul Chiasson)
"I think that Georges is an experienced player," said Habs GM/Coach Bob Gainey of his big enforcer. "He’s been in the league for a long time.

"He understands himself, and I think we’d like him to be positive player for our team in a lot of ways.

"Part of his tool box contains a big, raw, physical player that can fight, and so I would expect that he’s going to bring a full tool box with him to the game tonight," he said.

Okay. But the Montreal coach may have tipped his own hand when he spoke about his hopes for the playoff series -- clearly, the Habs do not plan on being a run and gun team this time around.

“I think I’d be happy if it turned into a long series," said the CHC's boss. "Whatever adjectives we insert in there are fine.

"I think it will be. I think there’s too much invested by both teams, there’s players who enjoy that style of play, and hockey provides lots of latitude and physical play and body contact. I think it will be part of the series, and I think it will be a good part of the series."

1:33 p.m.
During his press conference, B's head coach Claude Julien again spoke about the Bruins leaving last week's Bruins vs. Canadiens game in the past.

"I think we’re very open and vocal about the fact that we crossed a line in the second period," he said.  "There’s no secrets here, guys.  We crossed a line, we realized it, and we paid for it, and we let them back in the game, and that’s certainly not something we’re planning on doing.

"We’re going to play the same way we have all year --- but not like the second period."

1:03 p.m.
More from Big Georges
“This series is going to be physical," said Georges Laraque from the Canadiens locker room here in the TD Banknorth Garden. "I’ll do everything I can do [to] be a difference. 

"Obviously if I could get them off the ice for five minutes, obviously I would."

And of the comments about Thornton?

“Like I said, he wants to take it personal and stuff, then he can do that," said the Canadien.  "Somebody asked me a question about it, and then I answered what I thought about him, and that’s it.

"You can interpret it the way that you want, but at the end of the day, we have to play hockey.

"We have to be disciplined, and it’s going to be a physical series," he said.

Talking about his own role in the series, Laraque was clear.

"[I'm] going to do my job the best I can and help the team win," he said.

Asked about Laraque's shadowing of Lucic earlier this year, Larque said, “it’s kind of different in the playoffs.

"You’re not going to hurt a team by following and shadowing somebody on the ice," continued the Habs enforcer. "When I did that, it was kind of more [to send] a message.

"In the playoffs, you want to hurt a team in the long run, you need to be physical every shift so in the series it takes a toll on them….When you get into a fight, you hurt one guy.

"When you get physical with a whole team, you hurt more than one guy."

In the end, however, Laraque seemed to show his cards.

“Again, when I say stuff like that….players will go after you to show their emotions, to show they don’t like that," he said. " I’d be glad that everybody takes it personal, they go after me, because I think I can take it.

"I’ll take the physicality on me, I’m really not worried about it."

12:50 p.m.
What the heck did Georges Laraque say on Tuesday?
According to Mike Zeisberger of The Toronto Sun, George Laraque decided to let words start a battle earlier this week instead of waiting until the drop of the puck tonight.

Zeisberger, no doubt working off a translation of an interview on CKAC, a French radio station in Quebec, reported that Laraque said of Shawn Thornton, "When we dropped the gloves in Montreal, I fell...I'm out of his league. He's way too small for me."

According to Zeisberger, Laraque added: "Actually, some of his teammates told me he was shaking in his boots before the game. He really didn't want to face me. If he wants to dance in Boston it will be my pleasure to go with him. I'll make sure the crowd quiets down really fast."

Lastly, this nugget: "Of course I'd like to also fight with Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara but I have to be careful...In the playoffs they'll eject you immediately."

According to Zeisberger, Laraque also had some choice words for his own team AND the Bruins when he said, ""I have never seen a team get roughed-up as badly as the Bruins roughed us up last week...I'm sure that if they play that kind of hockey during the playoffs, guys will get suspended. I understand why they played that way. They didn't want to face us in the first round. They wanted to face the Panthers."


Now, let's be frank here -- I include Mr. Laraque's comments solely because I believe they are relevant to tonight's game as a story and not necessarily because I believe there is any validity to his notions about Thornton and his B's teammates.

But now that you've read them, I can report about the rest of the day with your having the relevant information and quotes. In fact, go to the source to read the whole thing.

10:30 a.m.
It looks like a semi-optional, with Yelle, Recchi, Ryder, Savard, Axelsson and Ference being the missing faces.

Several members of the Habs are in the doorway to the visiting bench watching the B's practice.

Georges Laraque was front and center...

10:22 a.m.
Thus, it begins.
Dennis Wideman was the first Boston Bruins player on the ice for practice, followed quickly by Byron Bitz and Mark Stuart.

The ice itself is decorated by Stanley Cup logos and the arena is sporting bunting -- a la Fenway Park during the playoffs.

9:49 a.m.
More from Montreal...'s Dave Stubbs wrote on Tuesday: Canadiens coach Bob Gainey confirmed today that he'll use Patrice Brisebois on defence in Game 1, counting on his experience, but that Yannick Weber is making the trip and might be inserted as early as Saturday. Might be.

Mathieu Dandenault will play defence in Game 1.

Gainey said only the players he could use in game action would be on this afternoon's charter flight to Boston, meaning Ryan O'Byrne and Weber. The status of Sergei Kostitsyn remains unclear, and Andrei Markov has not yet skated, at least in front of the eyes of the media.

Some of us believe that Markov will skate under the supervision of strength and conditioning coordinator Scott Livingston in Montreal or Brossard on Thursday and possibly Friday, and could be ready to go on Saturday. But that's just wild rumour-mongering by people who do this for a living.

By the way, Andrew Ference did not skate on Wednesday and there was no update on his status.

And another thing
I don't think Mr. Stubbs is making the trip to Boston from Montreal this weekend, so thanks to Dave for keeping us up-to-date on the Habs happenings from Quebec. We'll try and do a passable job from down here. JB

9:24 a.m.
Emotional Awareness

Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien instructs his players during hockey practice in Wilmington, Mass., Wednesday, April 15, 2009. The Bruins face the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the NHL playoffs on Thursday.(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien has been asked time and again about the Black & Gold's Incredible Hulk transformation during the second period of April 9's game against Montreal.

During the second period -- a period in which Montreal scored four goals -- the B's lost their composure.

"We said it right after the game," said Julien. "Hopefully, you learn from that.

"There's a line you can't cross, and I thought we crossed that a little bit."

The B's actually crossed the line to the tune of 15 penalties and 41 minutes in the box.

"These are two teams that know each other very well," said Julien. "So it's not so much about prescouting; [rather it's] about how we're going to go out there and how we are going to play.

"We have to go out there and play our game and play it well."

Julien made it clear, however, that nothing behind the Bruins -- even accolades and crazy second periods -- matters.

"A lot of that stuff really doesn't matter in the playoffs," he said. "It's about going out there and showing it.

"I think we earned respect with our play during the regular season. Now the next challenge is to go out there and earn respect with the way that you are going to play during the playoffs."

Red Fisher's Pick
Montreal Canadiens head coach Bob Gainey leads a hockey practice, Tuesday, April 14, 2009 in Brossard, Que. The Canadiens will face the Boston Bruins in game one of the first round NHL playoffs Thursday in Boston. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Paul Chiasson)
The Montreal Gazette's revered professor of pux, Red Fisher, has picked the Bruins to win.

He writes: During the regular season, the Bruins had a better offense than the Canadiens among the forwards, a better defense and a better goalie. If you’re the Canadiens, how do you overcome that in a seven-game series? Let’s just say it’s a high mountain to climb.

Boston in six. Read the rest of his reasoning here.

Here's a practice photo gallery from the Gazette.

Providence Falls 3-0 in Game 1 of AHL Playoffs
From The Providence Bruins fell to the Portland Pirates 3-0 Wednesday evening at the Dunkin' Donuts Center.  The P-Bruins continue the Calder Cup Playoffs at the Dunkin' Donuts Center Friday versus the Pirates at 7:05 p.m.

The Pirates took a 1-0 lead at the 4:23 mark of the opening period.  Marek Zagrapan tallied his first goal of the playoffs, while Mark Mancari and Marc-Andre Gragnani recorded the assists.  Portland took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.

After a scoreless second period, the Pirates made it 2-0 at the 1:42 mark of the third period.  Felix Schutz netted his first goal of the post season unassisted.  The Pirates finished off the scoring at the 19:02 mark with an empty net goal.  Zagrapan scored his second goal of the post season with Mancari getting the lone assist. Portland went on to win 3-0.

Tuukka Rask stopped 30 of 32 shots for the P-Bruins, while Jhonas Enroth made 28 saves for the Pirates.  The P-Bruins were 0-for-3 on the power play and 1-for-1 on the penalty kill
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