|The Canadiens now boast a 24-7 all-time playoff series mark against the Bruins. |
MONTREAL - It wasn’t pretty, it was tougher than anyone expected, but in the end the Canadiens came out on top against the Bruins in a playoff series. Sound familiar?
It may go down as yet another Beantown heartbreak at the hands of the Habs, but after being pushed to the limit by the underdog Bruins and almost squandering a 3-1 series lead, the Canadiens reminded the hockey world what they were truly made of.
“Sure this didn’t go the way anyone wrote it up, but we kept on fighting,” said Carey Price
, after bouncing back with his second shutout of the series. “There’s no quit in this room and everyone in here knows it.”
As if Price being at the top of his game wasn’t bad enough news for the Bruins, the Habs’ vaunted offense also sprang back to life in Game 7 after going silent throughout most of the series. The outburst didn’t come a moment too soon for Alex Kovalev.
“At some point in this series, we stopped playing the style that got us here,” said Kovalev. “We started playing like the Bruins and tried to prove that we were the stronger team physically. Once you stop playing your game, it sometimes takes a little while to find it again, but we did it tonight and got back to our fast-paced style.”
One line that didn’t have an identity crisis in this tough opening-round series is the bruising trio of Bryan Smolinski, Tom Kostopoulos and Steve Begin, who gave the Bruins all they could handle.
“All season long we created an identity for ourselves as a team by working hard and using our speed,” explained Begin. “We hadn’t yet found our playoff identity, but that all changed tonight.”
After letting a pair of 1-0 first-period leads evaporate in Game 5 and 6, the Canadiens were not about to let the Bruins off the hook in Game 7.
“There wasn’t really anything said before the second period because there was no need for it. Saku said all that had to be said in the room after Game 6 in Boston,” revealed Mike Komisarek about his captain’s strong words. “We knew what we had to do. We came in ready to battle and prepared to pay whatever price to get the job done.”
The character the Habs showed against the Bruins was the result of a lesson well learned, according to Komisarek.
“We faced a similar situation last season when we lost the final game of the regular season to miss the playoffs,” recalled Komisarek. “It was the same thing: win and go on or lose and go home. Tonight, no one wanted to go home.”Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com