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Bruins defeat Canadiens in Winter Classic prelude

by Sean Farrell

MONTREAL -- The Boston Bruins finally swung some momentum back in their favor in their long rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens, which they will carry into their next game at the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

Loui Eriksson and Landon Ferraro scored 42 seconds apart in the third period to help Boston defeat Montreal 3-1 at Bell Centre on Wednesday.

Eriksson scored a shorthanded goal on a breakaway to tie the game 1-1 at 7:53 of the third. Ferraro gave the Bruins a 2-1 lead with his third goal, second in three games, at 8:35.

Patrice Bergeron made it 3-1 with his ninth goal at 13:42.

Tuukka Rask made 32 saves for the Bruins (15-9-3), who had lost seven straight against the Canadiens and 12 of 13.

"It's good to realize we can beat them," said Bergeron, whose 576th NHL point moved him past Milt Schmidt into 11th place in Bruins history. "That's a very good team, we respect them a lot, but we can compete with them and it's a big win for us."

It was Boston's first win against Montreal since a 4-1 victory here on March 12, 2014.

"We haven't had a ton of luck lately against them," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "I think they've pretty well had their way with us for almost a year and a half at least. So it was nice for us to get this win."

The Bruins are 7-1-2 in their past 10 games, and 10-2-2 on the road.

Mike Condon made 20 saves, and Paul Byron scored in the first period for the Canadiens (19-7-3), who have lost three straight for the first time this season.

"There's no panic," Condon said. "These things happen. You can't feel sorry for yourselves, you've just got to show up (Thursday) and keep working hard, that's the only thing you can do."

Montreal, which plays at the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday, is 1-3-1 in its past five games. The three points are the least they have had in a five-game stretch.

"It's adversity, obviously, but we've got to handle it the right way," Montreal captain Max Pacioretty said. "We'll see what we're made of [Thursday]."

The 732nd game between the Canadiens and the Bruins, who made their NHL debut in 1924-25, came 91 years and one day after their first. On Dec. 8, 1924, Montreal won 4-3 at Boston Arena, which is now Matthews Arena, the home rink of Northeastern University.

Including 177 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Bruins and Canadiens have faced each other 909 times, the most any teams have played each other in the NHL.

Boston will host Montreal in the Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on New Year's Day.

"It's going to be special," said Bergeron, who grew up in suburban Quebec City as a fan of the Quebec Nordiques. "It's exciting to have a chance to play outdoors, first of all, but the rivalry with Montreal is definitely something really special. It's something that has been going on for so many years, so it's going to be a great event."

Eriksson scored Boston's fifth shorthanded goal to tie it. Bruins captain Zdeno Chara batted a cross-ice pass by Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban out of midair, knocking the puck forward to Eriksson, who drove in on a breakaway from Boston's blue line.

"I wasn't looking for anything special in the middle, I was just trying to get it out," Chara said. "It was a baseball swing, and Loui with all he had put it in their net."

With Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry on his tail, Eriksson moved to his forehand and put a shot between Condon's pads before crashing into the boards behind the Montreal net.

"It was a great play by Chara to spring [Eriksson] for a breakaway, but we can't take our foot off the gas after that happens," Pacioretty said.

Ferraro beat Condon with a shot from the slot. Bergeron deked the Montreal rookie for his 215th NHL goal, which was set up by linemates Matt Beleskey and Brad Marchand.

"Well, it was a great forecheck I thought from Matt coming in and keeping the puck alive, and then [Marchand] finding me in front," Bergeron said.

Byron got credit for his fourth goal at 8:49 of the first. He flipped a centering pass from the end boards in the left corner that floated into the goalmouth and bounced into the net off Bruins defenseman Zach Trotman.

Bruins right wing Jimmy Hayes returned to the lineup after he was a healthy scratch for two games.

Boston center David Krejci left the game briefly in the second period with what appeared to be a wrist injury. He returned but did not play the final 4:02 of the third period.

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