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Canadiens handle Bruins in Gonchar's debut

by Sean Farrell

MONTREAL -- Dale Weise and the Montreal Canadiens were all set to take a measure of themselves against the Boston Bruins on Thursday.

Weise scored on a penalty shot and Max Pacioretty had two goals, helping Montreal to extend its winning streak to four games with a 5-1 victory against Boston at Bell Centre.

Weise, who fought Bruins forward Gregory Campbell in the first period, completed a Gordie Howe Hat Trick with an assist on Pacioretty's first goal when Montreal scored three times in the second period.

"I think our whole team just kind of gets up for Boston," said Weise, whose goal was his first since the Canadiens' 3-1 win against the Bruins in Game 7 of the second round of last season’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. "There's something about them, it's just a playoff atmosphere every night. The crowd was in it right off the start. That was our team's best effort, so they're just an easy team to get up for."

Lars Eller scored for the third straight game 13:00 into the second period to give the Canadiens a 2-1 lead. Pacioretty scored his second goal at 5:09 of the third period when David Desharnais' centering pass went in off his skate.

"They're just such a good team," Pacioretty said. "We're always up for the challenge and, I've said it before, that team's a measuring stick for how teams want to play in the League, and I think it's a little bit extra motivation, and it's like that when you play teams like them and teams like [the Los Angeles Kings] and [Chicago Blackhawks], I think you always feel like you have a little bit more to give and a little bit more to prove, and it's like that for us against them."

Jiri Sekac increased the lead to four with Montreal's first power-play goal in 11 games at 14:06. It was the Canadiens' fourth power-play goal of the season, their third in two games against the Bruins and ended an 0-for-26 drought dating to a 3-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Oct. 18.

"It's definitely nice," Pacioretty said. "We've had so many looks on it, especially [Thursday]; we were definitely great on the power play. [Tomas Plekanec's] line had a two-minute shift where they were snapping it around, they had tons of chances, and it just so happens that a regroup and a goal off the rush is the one that goes in at the end of the day, but that's the bounce we need and hopefully they start pouring in now."

Carey Price made 21 saves, and 40-year-old defenseman Sergei Gonchar played 20:08 his Canadiens debut two days after he was acquired in a trade with the Dallas Stars for forward Travis Moen.

"[Gonchar] did a lot of good things," said Montreal coach Michel Therrien, who coached Gonchar with the Pittsburgh Penguins. "Five-on-five, I liked the way he handled the puck. His strength is that first pass to make a good transition. He moved the puck well on the power play, took good shots, so I liked his game a lot."

Dougie Hamilton scored a power-play goal in the first period for Boston, which lost 6-1 to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday to end a five-game winning streak.

"We played the way we wanted to play and got the results we wanted after one period," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "But to make a long story short, we weren't able to sustain it."

Boston goalie Niklas Svedberg made 29 saves in his first start against Montreal. He stopped 15 of 17 shots Wednesday after replacing Tuukka Rask 4:32 into the second period.

"It was a tough second period for us," Svedberg said. "We've got to keep playing even if we let a goal in."

The Bruins, who lost 6-4 to the Canadiens on Oct. 16, play all four of their games against Montreal this season as the second of back-to-back games.

Weise's penalty-shot goal at 3:31 of the second tied the game 1-1. Weise, who was tripped by Dennis Seidenberg on a breakaway, beat Svedberg with a shot between the legs for his first goal of the season.

It was Montreal's first penalty shot since former captain Brian Gionta scored against Cam Talbot of the New York Rangers on April 12.

Eller gave the Canadiens the lead with his fifth goal on a pass from Brendan Gallagher, who beat Hamilton and Seidenberg to a puck behind the Bruins' net.

Hamilton scored at 16:04 of the first, four seconds after Montreal's PA Parenteau was penalized for hooking. Loui Eriksson got the puck back to the point off the faceoff in the Canadiens' zone and Hamilton shot a rolling puck that got past Price for his fourth goal.

"As a whole team, as a unit, we're all struggling," Hamilton said. "I don't know what it is. Obviously if we knew what it was, we'd be playing differently. I think we showed we can play better, in the first period I thought we were good. Maybe they were just sleepy, I don't know. But obviously a pretty frustrating and upsetting road trip."

Gonchar was paired with fellow Russian defenseman Andrei Markov on the power play in his 1,257th NHL game. That moved Gonchar into a tie for 75th in regular-season games played with Joe Nieuwendyk, one ahead of Henri Richard, who played his entire career with Montreal and holds the Canadiens' record for games played.

Gonchar, who turns 41 on April 13, is the third 40-year-old to play for the Canadiens, and the first since Lorne "Gump" Worsley in 1969-70. Another Hall of Fame goalie, George Hainsworth, was 41 when he played four games in his return to Montreal in 1936-37.

"It's probably one of the most recognized franchises in all of sports, so you're playing for such a team, it's always special," Gonchar said. "I walked in and I saw all the names on the wall and here is so much history, and it's something special and I'm glad to be part of it."

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