On Monday night, the Boston Bruins defeated the Montreal Canadiens, 6-5, in front of 21,273 fans at the Bell Centre.
Boston defenseman Brad Stuart took a pass from Shean Donovan at 18:12 and sent the packed house home shaking their heads as the Bruins boarded the bus to the airport, victorious.
Following a beautiful ceremony commemorating both the Montreal Canadiens 97th year and the traditional rivalry with the Boston Bruins, the two teams engaged in their 679th meeting.
And no matter how hard the Habs tried to conger up the ghosts of the Forum, it was the specters of the old Boston Garden who hitched a ride on the Bruins charter to la belle provence
Despite the gorgeous production and theatrics before the contest, it was a downright ugly game.
Guillaume Latendresse scored off a deflection at 9:27 when Stuart dove feet first to block a puck.
It was the right idea, but it had the wrong result. The shot deflected off Stuart's skate, wobbled as it flew and went by Bruins goalie Tim Thomas
Despite the early goal, however, it was Thomas who kept the Bruins in the game, making several outstanding saves in just the first stanza. And the Bruins goalie was the story until Glen Murray bounced a puck off the hip of Canadiens goalie Christobal Huet from behind the Habs net at 16:38.
Then Marco Sturm again found a hole in the Montreal goalie, and beat Huet at 18:15 to put the Bruins up, 2-1, going into the first intermission.
Five goals later, at the end of the second period, the teams were back where they started at a quarter past seven.
Forward Shean Donovan continued his hot streak for Boston at 1:48 of the second and winger Wayne Primeau scored his 4th of the season -- a shorthanded goal at 3:12 to put the B's up by three.
But, for the rest of the period, momentum wore blue, white and red.
The Habs Michael Ryder scored at 4:37 and then Michael Johnson scored at 15:43 to bring the Canadiens within one goal.
Alexander Perezhogin brought the bleu, blanc et rouge
all the way back and knotted the score, 4-4, at 19:21 of the second session.
It was a new game in the third and the teams traded goals to again tie the score, this time at five-all. Boston's Stuart scored his third of the season at 10:35 (from Marc Savard
). And Montreal defenseman Sheldon Souray scored his 10th goal at 12:47 (from Alexei Kovalev).
But with 1:48 remaining in the game, Stuart shot a puck that rocketed past the Canadiens Aebicher, who had relieved Huet in the second, to put the Bruins up 6-5.
A late Canadiens penalty for too-many-men-on-the-ice put the game away for the Bruins and sent the Boston squad home happy.
"It was just one of those nights where the puck had eyes both ways," said Thomas afterward. "In the first period, I could see that we were a little flat, that the puck was not bouncing our way. So I was trying to do everything within my power to keep it close."
"It was kind've up and down," said Stuart after the game. "After the second period we weren't too upbeat about the way things were going for us. But we stuck with it and were able to pull it out."
Bruins head coach Dave Lewis was equally relieved.
"It certainly was emotional," said the generally unemotional head coach. "But as it turned out, some key guys made some big time plays."
And Lewis continued to praise his goalie.
"He's the reason why we were in the game," said Lewis of Thomas, who made 34 saves.
"It's funny to say that when you give up five goals, but they came wave after wave after wave."
In the end, Lewis didn't much care about the stats, game plan or the technique.
"I don't know if we deserved to win," he said. "But we won."
The Black and Gold return home to the TD Banknorth Garden on Thursday, December 7th when they square off against the Toronto Maple Leafs at 7:00 p.m.
And don't miss State Radio perform a special, post-game concert after the game with Toronto. A game ticket grants you admission to State Radio's post-game set on the Garden Ice. Plus, all high school and college students are eligible for one half-price ticket in the $45.50 and $55.00 price range with a valid student ID.
Tickets are available for all home games online by clicking here
, at the TD Banknorth Garden Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, or by phone at 617.624.BEAR.