Montreal Canadiens Blow Third Period Lead, Head Home With Split


Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Bruins showed why they were the National Hockey League’s best team in the regular season as they came back from a 3-1 third period deficit to win 5-3 and even their series with the Montreal Canadiens.

The Canadiens had played a perfect third period heading into the under-10 minute commercial break. They had increased their lead, they had controlled the play and had the Bruins looking utterly demoralized.

I was convinced that there was no way that the Bruins would win the game unless they improved their play, and lo and behold it was done. We often say that a team isn’t good enough to just flick a switch and turn their game around. The Bruins are good enough. They were sitting on their bench and decided they weren’t going to lose.

Now, I’m not saying Montreal was helpless in the final 10 minutes. They made some mistakes. But it wasn’t like they played horribly. But Carey Price said it best. Every team faces adversity. It’s not the fact that they lost their first game of the playoffs – they were never going 16-0 – it’s how they respond in Game Three when they return home to the Bell Centre.

Here are some other notes from the game.

Thomas Vanek, as I thought, responded well. Did he have a great game without the puck? Not necessarily. But he scored two goals on two perfect tips. Being in the right place at the right time and making those tips is a great contribution.

Mike Weaver and Francis Bouillon were exploited today as Claude Julien changed some matchups but Weaver looked really good on the penalty kill and looks like a second Josh Gorges out there. A goal doesn’t hurt as well.

Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais along with Vanek didn’t really jump out at even strength. It will be interesting to see what Michel Therrien does when he has last change to skew the matchups on the ice to his advantage.

– Speaking of lines that struggled, the Lars Eller, Rene Bourque and Brian Gionta line didn’t necessarily struggle but they were on the ice for every goal against in Saturday’s game. It was bound to happen as they were on an incredible hot streak but, like the rest of the team, what will really be important is how they respond.

– Price said after the game that a lot of Boston’s goals were just them throwing at the net and that the Canadiens should do more of that. It’s not totally wrong.

– Let’s face it. A split is something that most Canadiens fans would have taken no problem going into the series. They still have home ice advantage going into the Bell Centre. This will be a long series and it will be interesting to see how they deal with not only a loss but also the way they lost it.

– Hockey is a game of bounces. Game 1 featured tons of posts and some close misses for the Bruins. Those turned around in Game 2. If the Canadiens put themselves in a position to win every game, that’s just one part of the battle.