In hockey there is something special when two original six teams hit the ice, especially when its two teams that have exemplified the term rivalry in every sense of the word. Perhaps one of the largest rivalries in hockey history would be that of the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens.
The energy at the TD Garden on any given game night is among the best in the league. When the Montreal Canadiens hit the ice in Boston the fan participation is magnified and the players transition that added energy to the ice. With both teams battling for the top spot in the east, it’s no surprise that fans were given the show they were looking for. But before the puck dropped, it didn’t matter what team you cheered for, players and fans were united as Sandy Hook Elementary teacher Natalie Hammond was honored for her efforts during last years tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. All proceeds from the Bruins charitable game night endeavors were donated to the Newtown Youth Academy and it’s programs. With the ceremonial puck drop out of the way, it was time for old time hockey to hit the ice.
Michael Ryder was an instrumental player for the Bruins during their 2011 cup run and reaped the rewards when he hoisted the Stanley Cup with his teammates that season. Ryder signed with Dallas the following year and most recently found himself traded to the Montreal Canadiens just last week. Familiar with the Bruins system, Ryder was on the ice to assist alongside P.K. Subban during the power play goal and first of the game for Montreal from Tomas Plekanec at 9:57.
It was a quick time on top for the Canadiens, as Tyler Seguin put the puck in the net for Boston at 10:47 for his 5th of the season from Bergeron and Marchand. Seguin who struggled to produce during the start of the season is finally finding his stride; scoring a similar goal on Saturday during Boston’s win over Tampa Bay. Nine seconds later, David Desharnais fired one past Tuukka Rask putting the Canadiens on top 2-1.
In a reoccurring turn of events Boston began the second period behind a goal and looked to capitalize and even the score quickly. While it didn’t happen as fast as they had hoped Boston’s first line made a continued drive to the net and Patrice Bergeron evened the score at 4:06; assisting on the goal, Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand giving all three players a multi point night. Marchand-Seguin-Bergeron have been a consistent line as of late, finally finding the chemistry that eluded them at seasons start.
A new player to the roster this season, Bruins Dougie Hamilton has been exemplary since hitting the ice opening night.
“If I need to sit out to be a better player, I’ll sit out,” said Hamilton. “I’m going to do whatever it takes to be here and yo be a better player.”
The young defencemen net his 2nd goal of the season and his NHL career at 9:20. In addition, Marchand and Bergeron continued on their point train tallying assists and putting both players at 3 points after roughly 30 minutes of hockey. Despite a 3-2 lead on Montreal, the Bruins found themselves in a precarious spot with McQuaid and Ference in the sin bin,giving Montreal a 5-on-3, although Boston effectively killed off both penalties.
With five minutes remaining in the period, play skated into a familiar territory and the gloves began to fly as Bruins Milan Lucic and Canadiens Brandon Prust found themselves fist to fist in the first fight of the night and setting the tone for the remaining minutes of the period. In a duel of the fists Bruins captain Chara and Canadiens Alexei Emelin dropped the gloves in retribution for a particularly nasty uncalled cross check to the ribs on Bruins forward Tyler Seguin. Seguin skated off ice and didn’t return to finish the remaining minutes of the period.
Rask continually came up big for the Bruins during the second period with aggressive saves, while Peter Budaj was equally solid with the exception of one goal for Montreal keeping the score 3-2 in Boston’s favor to close out the second period of play.
In what would have been a loss of catastrophic proportions, Bruins fans breathed a collective sigh of relief as Seguin returned to the third period lineup. Noticeably absent with thanks to a fighting major the previous period, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. Chara’s absence and a building frustration on the Bruins bench was felt for the majority of the period.
“The frustrating part,” commented Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien in regards to the uncalled crosscheck on Seguin and Chara’s quick defense of his teammate. “You end up 17 minutes in the penalty box, when you should have been on the power play.”
Canadiens Max Pacioretty effectively tied the game 3-3 at 5:31. Following Pacioretty’s drive and success on net; the game quickly swung into Montreals’ favor with David Desharnais scoring his 2nd of the game at 9:17 making it 4-3.
The Bruins loss while disheartening for fans will hopefully be short lived, the team travels to Washington, D.C. to face the Capitals on Tuesday. It will be another busy week with hot match ups and Toronto skates into town Thursday and the Flyers take the ice for a matinee contest on Saturday.