Bruins must beat Canadiens or hit road in 0-2 hole
Shawn P. Roarke
CANADIENS at BRUINS
(Montreal leads best-of-seven series, 1-0)
TV: CBC (HD), RDS (HD), VERSUS (HD), NESN (HD)
Big story: Montreal accomplished its goal of stealing home-ice advantage with Thursday night’s victory.
"We came in here with a plan," goalie Carey Price said after authoring a 31-save shutout. "We wanted to come out with a good start to this game and a good start to the series. We did that exactly."
Now the pressure is squarely on Boston, turning Game 2 into a virtual must-win for the higher seed in this tournament. Going into a raucous Bell Center facing an 0-2 hole is just about the last thing these Bruins want to do. Boston was 0-3 in the regular season in Montreal.
"Obviously you want to get off to a good start and get that first game; it’s a big game," Boston forward Milan Lucic said. "Statistics show that the team that wins that first game, the (advantage) is to them. But like I said, it's four wins. You look back at last year, we learned a lot. We were up three-nothing and (lost to Philadelphia). So we just got to get refocused, reenergized, and our focus is going on to Game 2 now.
"The Bell Centre is not an easy building for us to win in, especially this year. Yeah, it's definitely a must-win to try to get the split."
Canadiens: Montreal channeled its game plan from last season's run to the Eastern Conference Finals and replicated it with clinical effectiveness in Game 1 of this season's playoff run.
Simply, the Canadiens got the early lead after scoring off a turnover and then battened down the hatches and surrounded Price to not only eradicate scoring opportunities from the prime areas of the ice, but also deny Boston the chance to get at rebounds and score the dirty goals that need to be a part of their arsenal.
"We were just playing patient," Price said. "It is not our rink so we don't have to put on a show or anything. We just have to play simple road hockey."
Montreal did just that, blocking 19 shots, playing the body at virtually every turn and often surrounding the area around Price’s crease with as many as four players.
It was a recipe that not only won the hockey game, but frustrated the Bruins as the game progressed.
Bruins: This is not a position Boston wanted to be in. There have been too many playoff disappointments since the last Cup victory in 1972, and far too many of them have come against the hated Canadiens, who have won 24 of the 32 playoff series these teams have contested.
Now the Bruins face the prospect of going back to Montreal in a very dangerous 0-2 hole if they don’t find answers to some of the questions Montreal posed in Game 1.
Most pressing is the need to get to the front of the net to tip some of the point shots the Bruins generated Thursday night or at least claim the rebounds Price might leave.
The Bruins spent a good portion of their 45-minute practice session Friday working on their down-low play.
"Sometimes you maybe lose that instinct around the net; getting traffic, getting there and bearing down," forward Michael Ryder said. "That's what we worked on today, making sure we get traffic, get shots and find the back of the net and give us some confidence."
Who's hot: Price starts the postseason red-hot, authoring his third postseason shutout with a 31-save outing. Brian Gionta had a pair of goals in Game 1 and now has 5 goals in his past three games. He had 9 goals and 15 points in last season's 19-game run in the postseason. Montreal's Scott Gomez had a pair of assists in Game 1 and now has 61 points in his past 62 postseason games, dating back to his time with the New Jersey Devils.
Injury report: Montreal forward Jeff Halpern, who has not played since March 30, has been practicing with the club and could be back soon. Andrei Kostitsyn and Travis Moen were both hurt Thursday night blocking shots from Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara. Each, however, returned later in the game and is expected to be ready for Game 2.
Stat pack: Six players made their Stanley Cup Playoffs debut Thursday night. For Boston, it was Nathan Horton, Gregory Campbell and Brad Marchand. For Montreal, it was Lars Eller, Ryan White and David Desharnais. … The Bruins have a 10-32 lifetime series record in the playoffs when they have lost the first game of a best-of-7 series. Conversely, Montreal has only lost 9 of the 66 series in which it registered a Game 1 victory. … Montreal's James Wisniewski played 22:56 in the first game, the most of any Canadiens' player. Boston's Zdeno Chara led all players with 25:26 of ice time.
Puck drop: "It's just about trying to find ways of getting the puck by (Price). We know he's playing well and he's a good goalie," Ryder said. "In this League, you have to find ways to score. You might not beat him on the first shot, it's the other shots and rebounds that you are going to score on. We have to find ways to generate that."