The Northeast Division is quickly shaping up to be one of the best in the NHL, and on Thursday night the Boston Bruins
served notice they intend to be major players.
and Marco Sturm
each scored a pair of goals and Manny Fernandez
made 27 saves to lead the Bruins to a 6-1 rout of the Montreal Canadiens
at TD Banknorth Garden and their fifth consecutive victory.
In the process, they took over sole possession of first place in the Northeast, jumping two points ahead of idle Buffalo and increasing their lead over the Habs to three points. Boston (10-3-3) also ended Montreal's 12-game regular-season winning streak in the series — in emphatic fashion.
"The guys showed great character and great resiliency," Bruins coach Claude Julien
said. "This was a big win for us, there's no doubt, and the guys in there should be proud of what they've done because they came to play tonight."
and Milan Lucic
also scored for Boston, which opened up a three-goal lead by the end of the first period and made it a difficult night all around for Montreal goalie Carey Price
Thanks in part to their inability to solve the Canadiens, the Bruins finished eighth last season and had to face their rivals in the opening round of the playoffs. Although the Habs prevailed in seven games, Boston managed at times to make the previously unflappable Price look a little more like the rookie netminder he was, and was able to solve him again on Thursday.
''I think they just wanted it more,'' Price said. ''They had more of a fight and they put in the effort, and we didn't.''
Thornton took advantage of a Mike Komisarek
turnover to score his first of the season 2:31 into the game, with Yelle earning the primary assist. Thornton returned the favor by setting up Yelle at the 17-minute mark and Sturm added a crippling goal when he connected on the power play with less than seven seconds remaining in the period.
Sturm scored another man-advantage goal 3:44 into the second by redirecting Patrice Bergeron
's shot behind Price, leading to catcalls from the Boston fans who serenaded Price with "Carey, Carey" as the Bruins took a 4-0 lead and Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau
looked on in frustration.
''They're in the NHL, they lost 12 games in a row against us, so I know they're not going to come in here and play easy or play tired or act like they are tired,'' Carbonneau said. ''We had no effort ... no emotion.''
got the Canadiens on the board with 6:26 left in the second after Fernandez mishandled the puck and found himself out of position as Koivu spun around the back of the net and beat him. Otherwise, Fernandez continued a run of stingy play by himself and Tim Thomas
— the goalie duo has allowed just nine goals over the last eight games.
Lucic got the Bruins started again at 4:42 of the third and Yelle added his second goal 4:02 later to complete the scoring and equal his career high with his third point of the night.
"I think we were calm and focused heading into tonight's game," Lucic said, "and it all started with Yeller's line — him and Thorny and Chuckie (Chuck Kobasew
) got us off to a good start, and we kept rolling for a full 60 minutes."
The victory not only vaulted Boston into the division lead, it moved the Bruins within three points of the League-leading New York Rangers
, who they will face Saturday at Madison Square Garden. The B's are off to their best 16-game start since the 2002-03 season.
''When you have all your lines going it is definitely an advantage,'' defenseman Zdeno Chara
said. ''Being able to use your whole lineup is crucial especially during a heavy schedule.''
Material from wire services and team broadcast media was used in this report.