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Bruins extend lead in Northeast

by Brian Compton
A season-series victory and a four-point swing have the Boston Bruins 18 points ahead in the Northeast Division.

Shawn Thornton broke a 1-1 tie 8:02 into the second period, and Tim Thomas made 27 saves as the Bruins earned a hard-fought 3-1 victory against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on Sunday afternoon.

It marked the fourth straight time the Bruins have beaten the Habs. Overall, they are 4-1 against Montreal in the six-game season series. Boston, which has allowed only one goal in its last two games, has recorded points in six straight contests and has lost only once in regulation in its last 11 (8-1-2). Meanwhile, the Habs have lost five of six.

The teams seemed destined to be held scoreless in the first period until each squad found the back in the net in the final 1:42. Robert Lang gave the Canadiens the lead when he tallied his 18th goal of the season at 18:18. After Aaron Ward was whistled for tripping, Lang took a pass from Andrei Markov and beat Thomas at the top right corner of the net.

But Boston tied it before the period concluded, as Dennis Wideman scored with 0.6 seconds left. The Bruins' defenseman -- who now has points in each of his last six games -- beat Carey Price (20 saves) with a wrist shot from the slot for his 11th goal of the season.

"We lost 3-1 to the best team in the conference, but on all three goals, we had control of the puck," Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau said. "You can do that against some teams, but not against them."

The Canadiens -- who wore ''barber pole'' retro jerseys and socks featuring the distinctive look of narrow red, white and blue horizontal bands used by the team in 1912-13 -- were blanked by Thomas the rest of the way. They managed eight shots in the second period, but Thornton had the lone goal to give Boston a 2-1 lead. Thornton, who also dropped the gloves with Montreal's Alex Henry just 96 seconds into the game, was less than impressed with the Habs' uniforms

''I was really concerned about it in warmup,'' Thornton said. ''When there were 23 guys skating around, I was dizzy and I didn't know if I got enough sleep or what. It wasn't as bad once there were five guys out there.''

Marc Savard iced the victory for Boston in the third period with an empty-net goal at 19:03. It was his 20th goal of the season and it extended his points streak to eight games. The Bruins went 0-for-6 on the power play, but benefited from the play of Thomas, who stopped all 14 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes.

''When I got called out for the first star there, they were booing and that's the way it should be,'' Thomas said. ''That's what rivalries are all about. We did a great job killing penalties in the second period and got the lead. We kept going at them and we didn't just sit back. We were playing to win and not to lose."

Lang left the game 9:33 into the third period and did not return. He was favoring his left leg following a check on Stephane Yelle along the boards. He could miss a significant amount of time after having a tendon in his left heel sliced by a skate.

"He got caught by a skate and it cut a tendon in the back of his foot," Carbonneau said. "It doesn't look good."

Canadiens left wing Guillaume Latendresse also had to leave the game after he fell heavily into the boards due to a check by Chuck Kobasew in the Canadiens' end of the ice.

"I thought it was pretty even for both sides over the 60 minutes," Montreal captain Saku Koivu said. "They have a lot of talent up front and they don't make a lot of mistakes."

Material from wire services was used in this report.

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