Boston, MA -
Canadiens forward Alex Kovalev scored two goals, including the game winner, to power Montreal to a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins on Thursday night at the Garden. Kovalev's second goal came early in the third period to give the Habs a 4-1 lead. The Bruins refused to quit in their final home game of the season, but fell short by a goal. Patrice Bergeron
scored two goals for the B's, while Yan Stastny scored his first career NHL goal.Patrice Bergeron
made Bruins history with his 30th and 31st goals of the season. Bergeron became the youngest player in team history to reach the 30-goal mark.
"I didn't know about that," said Bergeron. "It's flattering because of all the great players that have played in Boston. At the same time, I'm not thinking about that. It's about the team, not about me. Obviously, it's flattering, but I am looking forward for next season now."
Coach Mike Sullivan was clearly affected by the Bruins' effort. All season long, the Bruins have battled through games, refusing to quit. Thursday night was much of the same. After going down 4-1, the B's pressured hard and found themselves back to within one. Unfortunately for them, Montreal netminder David Aebischer was outstanding between the pipes and made 25 saves.
"For me, tonight was one of the more emotional games that we have been through as of late," said Sullivan. "It was emotional for me because I'm appreciative of how hard these guys work. I think they have shown the type of people they are down the stretch, by the way they play. I just thought our guys played their hearts out. As a coach, that's rewarding.
"We have a core of guys here that really care about what's going on. It's clearly evident to me. It was a pleasure to coach these players this year."
Montreal took a quick 1-0 lead just 20 seconds into the game. Alex Kovalev picked up a drop pass from Mike Ribeiro and fired a snap shot from the top of the right circle that beat Tim Thomas
stick side for No. 21 of the season.
At 10:04 of the first period, the Habs extended their lead to two goals when Jan Bulis tipped home an Andrei Markov slapshot from the point.
Bergeron made it 2-1 a minute into the second period. Bergeron one-timed a Brad Boyes pass from the slot that beat Aebischer stick side for his 30th goal of the season.
Then, at 6:52 of the second period, Richard Zednik extended the Canadiens lead back to two goals. Tomas Plekanec sent an aerial pass over defenseman Brian Leetch's stick right to Zednik, who deflected it past Thomas to make it 3-1 Montreal.
Kovalev added his second of the night at 6:36 of the third period to give Montreal a 4-1 lead.
22 seconds later though, Yan Stastny scored his first career NHL goal on a wrist shot from the slot and the Bruins were back within two goals. Glen Murray made a centering pass to the slot that Stastny quickly launched past Aebischer for the goal. Hal Gill picked up the other assist.
"You get shots and eventually one of them will drop," said Stastny. " It was nice to finally get that first one. Hal made a great play to keep the puck in the zone after he caused a turnover. Glen ended up finding me in the slot for the one-timer over his shoulder."
At 9:42 of the third period, Mike Ribeiro was whistled off for tripping Bergeron. Boston peppered Aebicher with six shots on the ensuing power play, but Aebischer came up huge for Montreal and stopped all six.
At 16:11 of the third, Bergeron cashed in and scored his second of the night to cut the Montreal lead to one. Brian Leetch sent a pass up ice to Bergeron, who avoided a Sheldon Souray body check, and made a beautiful deke on Aebischer for the goal.
Earlier in the season, Bergeron scored another highlight-reel goal against Montreal in Boston. Although this goal was just as beautiful, Bergeron ranks the first as his favorite.
"It's tough to say, but probably the first one," smiled Bergeron. "It was a give-and-go at the end with Boyes so that was nice. I like both though. It's hard to tell."
Boston pulled Thomas in the final minute of the third period, but failed to score the game-tying goal.
The Bruins will travel to Atlanta to play the Thrashers for their final game of the 2005-06 season on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. The game will be televised on NBC.Notes
The Boston Bruins held their annual team awards ceremony prior to Thursday night's game against the Canadiens.
P.J. Axelsson was awarded the Eddie Shore Award. The Eddie Shore Award has been presented since 1937 by the Gallery Gods to a player who they feel exhibited exceptional hustle and determination. Long-time Gallery God members, Roger Naples, Henry Higgins, John Healy, and Paul O'Sullivan presented the award.
The Elizabeth C. Dufresne Trophy presented to a Bruins player "who has been outstanding in home games," was awarded to Patrice Bergeron
. Mike Loftus from the Patriot Ledger presented the award to Bergeron. Loftus is the Chairman of the Boston Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
The John P. Bucyk award, presented by "Chief" himself, went to P.J. Axelsson for contributing the most to charitable and community endeavors. The Boston Bruins Alumni Association donates $1,000 in the name of the winner to a charity of his choice. Axelsson chose Childhood Glaucoma for his desired charity.
The WBZ Radio Papa Gino's Three Star Awards are presented to the players who won the season long compilation of "Three Stars of the Game" by WBZ. Patrice Bergeron
won the First Star Award, Brad Boyes won the Second Star Award, and Tim Thomas
won the Third Star Award.