By Brian Willwerth
Just minutes before Game Two of their playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens, the Boston Bruins found out they would be taking the ice without their captain, Zdeno Chara. He had been hospitalized Friday night for dehydration, and was not medically cleared to play. Would the rest of the team step up in his absence?
His teammates did not. As a result, the Bruins have dug themselves a big hole.
The Canadiens scored two goals in the first two and a half minutes of the game, and used another superb defense effort to beat Boston, 3-1, Saturday night at TD Garden. Montreal leads the series, 2-0.
The Bruins could not afford to get off to a slow start, but that’s what happened. Just 43 seconds into the game, Mike Cammalleri picked up a loose rebound off a James Wisniewski shot and beat Tim Thomas to put the Canadiens up 1-0.
After Dennis Seidenberg was whistled for interference behind the Boston goal, the Habs wasted no time in capitalizing. Cammalleri set up Mathiew Darche with a beautiful pass for a 2-0 advantage. Just like that, the Bruins were facing desperation.
As for Canadiens’ goalie Carey Price, he picked up right where he left off in Game One. He stopped all 15 shots he faced in the opening period, none better than the point-blank stop he made on Milan Lucic.
In the second period, the Bruins finally found a way to beat Price. Brad Marchand set up a wide-open Patrice Bergeron in front of the net to make it 2-1. It was Boston’s first goal of the series, and it energized the crowd. A few minutes later, we had our first fight of the series, as Shane Hnidy squared off against James Wisniewski. Wisniewski got the extra 2:00 for charging. As the power play expired, Tomas Kaberle’s shot from the point was deflected, and hit off the side of the post to the left of the Price, and the score remained the same.
That is, until 2:29 remained in the period. Yannick Weber scored a backbreaking goal he picked up a loose rebound in knocked it home to give the Canadiens their second two-goal advantage of the night. Shortly thereafter, Seidenberg hit the second post of the period for Boston.
The momentum was back with the visitors. The Canadiens outshot the Bruins 15-9 in the second 20 minutes of play.
In the third period, the Bruins got a power play when P.K. Subban was sent off for tripping. But they couldn’t capitalize then, nor did they the rest of the way. Price kept them off the scoreboard. Give the Canadiens a lot of credit: they did a great job defensively of protecting him – not just in the third period, but in the first two games as a whole. Boston outshot Montreal, 35-26. But the Habs didn’t seem to mind; they were very content to just dump the puck out of their own end whenever they had the chance.
Game 3 is Monday night at Bell Centre in Montreal. Face off is set for 7:30pm eastern. If the Bruins want to play another game in front of their home crowd, they’ll have to win at least one of the next two. Scoring more than one goal would be a good start.