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Habs-Bruins game was one for the ages

by John Kreiser
The 709th regular-season meeting between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins was one for the ages. Fourteen goals, 12 fighting majors and 182 penalty minutes will do that.

The Bruins' 8-6 victory at TD Garden on Wednesday easily was the wildest game in the League this season. The 14 goals were one off the most scored in a game this season, trailing only Tampa Bay's 8-7 win against Philadelphia two months ago. The 182 penalty minutes were the most in a game this season -- in fact, they were the most in any NHL game since Edmonton and Vancouver combined for 193 on Feb. 16, 2008.

Boston goaltender Tim Thomas surrendered six goals -- the most he's ever allowed in a victory. His counterpart, Montreal's Carey Price, allowed eight, the most by a Montreal goaltender since Patrick Roy was torched for nine by Detroit on Dec. 2, 1995 -- and was traded to Colorado five days later. The two also fought -- the first NHL fight for each, and the first by a Boston goaltender since Byron Dafoe in 2002.

The Bruins lit up the Canadiens for eight goals for the first time since Dec. 5, 1985, when they also won 8-6 in Boston. The six goals by the Canadiens were the most by either team in a loss to the other since Feb. 13, 1960, when the Bruins won 7-6 at Boston Garden.

All in all, a game unlike any of the previous 708 between the long-time rivals.

Marty's Montreal magic -- Martin Brodeur fares so well against the Montreal Canadiens that he doesn't even have to finish games to beat them.

Brodeur played only 20 minutes against the Canadiens last Sunday before leaving with a knee injury, but thanks to a pair of first-period goals, he was the winning goaltender in New Jersey's 4-1 victory at the Bell Centre. He improved to 40-16-5 all-time against the team he grew up watching (his father was the Habs' long-time team photographer), the most wins he has against any non-division opponent.

Brodeur's 40 wins against the Canadiens are the most by any goaltender against the Habs in the post-expansion era -- Dominik Hasek is next with 24. His 17 wins at the Bell Centre are the most of any visiting goaltender, and his five shutouts there are the most he's had in any visiting city.

Since moving to New Jersey from Denver in 1982, the Devils have had more success against the Canadiens than any team ever in such a sustained span. They are 56-35-8-1, and actually have a winning record in Montreal (24-22-4-1).

Don't shoot! -- While it's true that you have to shoot to score, the New York Islanders have been much better off letting the opposition take the lion's share of the shots.

The Islanders have been outshot 34 times in their first 54 games, but are a more-than-respectable 16-13-5 in those games. It's the 20 games in which they've outshot the opposition that have killed them; New York is just 2-16-2 when getting more shots.

The Islanders especially have struggled badly while playing 5-on-5. They are plus-3 in scoring on special teams -- but are minus-40 when playing 5-on-5.

Thursday's 4-3 shootout win at Montreal did end one drought: It was the first time in 23 games this season that the Isles won when trailing after two periods, leaving Pittsburgh, Anaheim and Ottawa as the only clubs without a victory when entering the third period on the wrong side of the score.
Right time of the night -- There must have been something about the 16-minute mark in the past week. On three occasions in a five-day span, the go-ahead goal was scored at that exact time -- Vancouver's Daniel Sedin did it Friday against Chicago, Kristian Huselius of Columbus followed the next night against Edmonton and St. Louis' Matt D'Agostini gave St. Louis a 2-1 win at Florida on Tuesday.

Ironically, there were no go-ahead goals scored at that exact time in either of the last two seasons.

Road warrior -- The San Jose Sharks hope to finish high enough to get home-ice advantage in as many playoff rounds as possible. But that might not be in the best interests of their goaltender.

Antti Niemi had back-to-back shutouts at Boston and Washington this past week, giving him four for the season -- all on the road (he also had shutouts at Ottawa and Los Angeles). Niemi's success away from home isn't surprising, because Niemi had five of his seven shutouts last season away from home while playing for Chicago.

In all, Niemi is 11-7-2 with a 2.34 goals-against average and .923 save percentage on the road, but just 6-6-1 with a 2.88 GAA and .908 save percentage at the Shark Tank. He's also a Saturday star (6-3-0, 2.01 GAA, .926 save percentage) who struggles on Fridays (1-1-0, 4.00, .875).
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