MONTREAL - Players come and go, but the Montreal Canadiens power play just keeps on clicking.
Patrice Brisebois had a goal and an assist as the Canadiens scored three power-play goals in the second period to beat the Boston Bruins 3-1 in NHL pre-season action Wednesday. Canadiens head coach Guy Carbonneau continued experimenting in his search for a power play replacement for free agent departure Mark Streit on the point, using Alex Tanguay there paired with either Brisebois or Yannick Weber.
Montreal has now scored 11 goals on 55 chances in eight pre-season games, an average of nearly seven opportunities per contest.
"It starts with offensive talent," coach Guy Carbonneau said. "When you have guys like Alex Kovalev, Andrei Kostitsyn, Tomas Plekanec, Saku Koivu, Chris Higgins, Andrei Markov on the point, sometimes you don't have any choice other than to have success."
Kovalev and Guillaume Latendresse also scored their first of the pre-season for the Canadiens (6-2-0), who have one exhibition game remaining at home Saturday against the Minnesota Wild.
Zdeno Chara scored in his first exhibition game for the Bruins (2-3-1), who lost their second straight of the pre-season.
The Canadiens showcased what will likely be their top two lines to open the season for the first time as captain Koivu made his pre-season debut after recovering from a foot injury suffered in his native Finland.
"I only skated twice with the team before this, so when I think about it that way I actually felt pretty good," Koivu said. "It's just a process to get the physical part where I want it. The foot felt good, there was just a bit of discomfort towards the end of the game."
Koivu centred a line with Tanguay and Christopher Higgins while last year's top unit of Tomas Plekanec between Alex Kovalev and Andrei Kostitsyn remained intact.
"I don't think any of us expected too much from this game," Koivu said of his line. "But I think all three of us felt better than we expected. We had some things going on. Obviously we didn't get a goal, but those things will come. There's a lot of potential for this line."
Jaroslav Halak followed up his shutout in his last start with another solid performance, stopping 33 shots, with no chance on Chara's goal.
Carbonneau is excited at the prospect of having the choice of Halak and Carey Price all season long.
"For the team, it's good to know we have two solid goalies this early," he said. "After all that happened last year, all that was said in the off-season, to be reassured like this augurs well for the start of the season."
Bruins goalie Manny Fernandez was also solid with 24 saves, turning away several quality opportunities early in the game before succumbing to the Habs power play in the second.
"He was awesome," Chara said. "He made some unbelievable saves, especially in the first period. He really kept us in the game."
Former Hab Michael Ryder made his first appearance at the Bell Centre since signing a US$12-million, three-year free agent contract with the Bruins, and he didn't receive a warm reception from the announced sellout crowd of 21,273 who booed him whenever he touched the puck and chanted his name in derision.
"I wouldn't expect anything less," Ryder said with a laugh. "It was just the first time on the ice, after that I didn't really hear it. I kind of expected that."
Ryder was playing with Marc Savard and P.J. Axelsson on what will likely be the Bruins top line this season.
After a scoreless first the Canadiens opened the second period on a 5-on-3 power play, with Boston's Shane Hnidy serving an interference penalty and Jeremy Reich hooking and holding minors, and quickly grabbed a 2-0 lead.
Kovalev used Chara as a screen to blast a slap shot from the high slot past Fernandez for his first of the pre-season at 0:26, and Brisebois converted a rebound off a Yannick Weber point shot at 1:08.
The Bruins remained undisciplined and Montreal took advantage, with Latendresse jumping on a rebound in front for his first of the pre-season at 11:25 to make it 3-0 with Chara in the box for tripping.
Chara made it a two-goal margin on a power play at 8:29 of the third, completing a nice tic-tac-toe play from Marc Savard and P.J. Axelsson on a backdoor play.
Notes: Canadiens defenceman Francis Bouillon limped off the ice toward the end of the game and headed staright for the dressing room. Carbonneau confirmed he was injured, but provided no further details. He said more would be known Thursday morning. ... Among the Bruins that didn't dress were forwards Phil Kessel, Peter Schaefer and Petteri Nokelainen and defenceman Aaron Ward. ... For the Canadiens, forwards Maxim Lapierre, Sergei Kostitsyn and rookie hopefuls Max Pacioretty and Ben Maxwell didn't dress, while defencemen Andrei Markov and Mike Komisarek also sat out. Defenceman Roman Hamrlik and winger Georges Laraque are both hampered by groin injuries.