The Boston Bruins defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-2 Saturday night at the TD Banknorth Garden in front of a sellout crowd of 17,565 in their final game before the NHL Holiday Break.
The Bruins win ended Montreal's five-game winning streak and lengthened the B's own such streak to three victories in a row. That trio of W's just happened to come against three Canadian teams: Ottawa, Vancouver and Montreal.
The victory placed Boston third in the Northeast Division behind Buffalo and Montreal and moved them to ninth place in the Eastern Conference playoff standings, just one point behind the New York Islanders and Washington Captials, who reside in 7th and 8th place respectively with 39 points.
"It can be a stepping stone for our (upcoming) road trip," said victorious Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas
. "It just makes Christmas that much better (for us). And hopefully it does for the fans, too."
The Bruins, with goalie-turned-folk hero Thomas blocking the goal line, played some outstanding defense in the first period. But the defensive minded Black & Gold had a little trouble generating their own offensive chances until, at 8:29, they had their first shot of the game that then resulted in a momentum-churning goal from their captain, Zdeno Chara
(his 6th, from Andrew Alberts, Marc Savard
Sparkplug forward Marco Sturm added another at 12:43 (his 10th, from Patrice Bergeron
) and Boston seemed to be one their way to another win.
But to their credit, the Habs did not roll over and made it a spectacular hockey game to watch.
Thomas stymied the Canadiens until the 16:06 mark of the first when Mike Komisarek's drive from the point deflected off of two Boston defenders and past a helpless Thomas (who made 10 saves in the second).
And a little bit of bad luck gave Bruins fans a lot to sweat about during the second period.
On the surface, everything seemed to be progressing quite well in the second third of the game.
The Bruins fired 13 shots on Christobal Huet. Alexei Kovalev got a tripping call that he protested about at 11:22 -- he was given an extra two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct, resulting in a four minute power play opportunity for Boston.
Unfortunately, a very tricky rebound bounce off of Montreal's goalie Christobal Huet (who would eventually get an assist on the play) sent the puck straight out to Montreal captain Saku Koivu, who passed to the Habs formidable forward Michael Ryder on a short-handed breakaway to beat a helpless Thomas and tie the game at 2-2 at 12:08 of the second.
The third period was nondescript until B's defenseman Milan Jurcina fired a bullet from the point (his 1st, assisted by Savard, Glen Murray) at 6:11 to put the B's ahead for good at 3-2.
"It just came out to me," said Jurcina when he described his goal. "I saw (Savard) go in front of the net so I just tried to put the puck on net.
"And it ended up in
Then the Hub of Hockey's Russian representative, Stanislav Chistov, seized the momentum for the B's permanently as he channeled Valery Kharlamov and broke through the Montreal defense.
Chistov kicked the puck to himself off a pass from Brad Boyes, skated through center ice and down the left side of the Montreal portion of the ice. He then slid right across the Habs goalmouth and lifted a terrific back-hander past Huet (2nd, Boyes) to put the B's up 4-2.
"It was great," said Chistov post game. "I just saw a guy deep and I tried to beat him one-on-one wide.
"And it worked."
Unfortunately, the game was stopped for several minutes later in the final period when Boston's Andrew Alberts took a Ryder stick to the cheek at 15:28.
Alberts, cut and needing attention, went to the dressing room and the Bruins were awarded a four-minute power play. Thankfully, the young D-man turned out to be fine and earned precious few stitches for his trouble.
After the game he admitted that any time you get hit in the face it is a cause for concern.
"You obviously can't see what happened," said Alberts. "Getting hit (near) the eye…it's obviously a scary thing."
Shortly after the Alberts injury, the crowd began to implore the Bruins to drop the hammer. And, adding to the excitement, the Garden's inhabitants started chanting "Na, na, na, na, hey, hey, hey, goodbye" to the Habs.
"It was a great crowd out there," said Thomas, who lauded the Garden dwellers efforts several times in his remarks to the press. "It was the best crowd of the year and that helped me to get into the game early."
Following their break, the Bruins will head out on the road for four road games, but will return to the Garden on Thursday, January 4th when they face the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second half of a home-at-home series with their division rivals.
The B's need their Seventh Man again that night, so be sure to pick up your seat!
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.