|Nathan Horton does it again in OT, Bruins advance past Canadiens to face Flyers||04.27.11 at 10:10 pm ET|
By DJ Bean and Scott McLaughlin
The Bruins gave Boston its latest Game 7 scare by blowing a pair of leads, but advanced to the second round of the postseason in thrilling fashion Wednesday night thanks to a Nathan Horton series-clinching goal in overtime that gave the B’s the 4-3 win. It was Horton’s second overtime goal this series.
With the victory, the Bruins will get a shot at redemption, as they will face the same Flyers team that came back from a 3-0 Boston series lead to eliminate the B’s in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season.
With the teams tied at two midway through the third, Chris Kelly put a rebound from an Andrew Ference shot under a diving Carey Price at 9:44 of the third period. P.K. Subban would erase the lead with a blast past Tim Thomas on the power play at 18:03 of the third. That set up Horton’s heroics.
Johnny Boychuk opened the night’s scoring by sending a shot from the point through traffic and past Price. Mark Recchi would follow with his first goal of the playoffs at 5:33, giving the B’s an early 2-0 lead and filling TD Garden with quite a buzz.
The Habs would come roaring back thanks to their special teams, with Yannick Weber scoring on the power play at 9:49 of the first period and Tomas Plekanec beating Thomas on a shorthanded breakaway at 5:50 of the second. Thomas would have 29 saves in regulation for the B’s.
The Bruins will begin the conference semifinals in Philadelphia, as the Flyers (ranked No. 2) are the higher seed. It is the third straight year in which the B’s have advanced to the second round of the playoffs. The B’s have been eliminated in the conference semifinals in each of the last two seasons.
With the win Wednesday, the Bruins have their first Game 7 victory since 1994, when the B’s eliminated the Habs at the Boston Garden. It is also the first time in Claude Julien‘s four years in the Boston that he’s led the team to a Game 7 victory. Julien’s first three seasons in Boston ended in Game 7 losses.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR BRUINS
– The B’s got off to a fast 2-0 start in the first 5:33 of the contest. Sure, they ended up blowing it, but Boychuk getting the B’s on the board early in the first period with a blast from the point was reminiscent of the team’s 7-0 victory over the Habs back on March 24. In that game, of course, Boychuk scored 1:01 into the game and the B’s never looked back.
– Kelly had just two goals and three assists in 24 regular-season games with the Bruins … and then topped that in one playoff series, tallying three goals and three assists against the Canadiens. More importantly, he produced in the biggest of situations. In Game 4, he scored the game-tying goal in the third period and then set up Michael Ryder for the overtime winner. Wednesday, he buried a rebound with 10:16 remaining in the third to give the B’s a 3-2 lead.
– The Bruins started the third period playing much better than they did in the second. They were able to string together good shifts from each of the top three lines, something they didn’t do in the middle frame. The B’s dominated time of possession for the first half of the period and were consistently swarming around Price. The pressure finally paid off when Kelly buried a rebound 9:44 into the period to give the B’s a 3-2 lead.
– Andrew Ference may give crowds the occasional finger, but he was huge for the Bruins this series. He scored a key goal in Game 4 (Finger Gate) and had two assists Wednesday, including on Kelly’s go-ahead goal in the third.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR BRUINS
– No use in having a two-goal lead when you can’t hold it. In front of a crowd that was trying to forget last year’s 3-0 collapse vs. the Flyers, the B’s let the Habs erase Boston’s 2-0 lead and clearly grab the momentum in the second period. It was a very rough period for the B’s, who ended up being outshot, 12-7, in the second.
– The B’s made Price’s night rough early, but they hardly poured it on once they grabbed their 2-0 lead. Following a timeout called by Jacques Martin, the B’s got only two shots on goal for the rest of the period. That means the B’s had as many goals in the first 5:33 as they did shots in the final 14:27 of the opening period. Hardly terrific, but given the two goals part, they’d probably take that every period.
– It was bad enough that the Bruins couldn’t score on the power play. It was even worse when they allowed Montreal to tie the game while Lars Eller was in the box for cross checking. After failing to get set up for the first minute of the power play, Recchi couldn’t control a pass from Dennis Seidenberg in the neutral zone, allowing Plekanec to skate in on a shorthanded breakaway and beat Thomas. Boston couldn’t get set up after the goal, either, and concluded the man advantage without a shot on goal. The B’s had a lot of bad power plays in the series, but this one was the worst, which is really saying something.
– Midway through that second period, Brad Marchand opted out of a golden scoring opportunity to make a pass to no one in particular. He took a feed on the left wing on a 3-on-1 and had an open lane to the net, but instead tried to pass the puck across the top of the crease to one of his two linemates. Unfortunately, one of them was tied up by a defender and the other was already past the right post by the time Marchand made the pass. What should’ve been a grade-A scoring chance became nothing more than a dump into the corner and an easy clear for Montreal.
– Poor officiating. Just a horrid penalty called on Shawn Thornton called late in the first period. With Habs forward Ryan White seemingly holding Thornton in blatant fashion, Thornton was called for an elbow that replays failed to show.
A hooking call on Michael Ryder on Plekanec at 8:22 of the first wasn’t much better. Plekanec seemed to go down rather easily on a play in which it seemed Ryder was simply outmuscling him. Boychuk’s boarding call late in the second period looked to be the closest to a penalty of all the ones called on the Bruins, as the late high-sticking call on Patrice Bergeron seemed to be more James Wisniewski theatrics than anything else.
|Bruins Game 7 Live Blog: Bruins, Habs will decide it in overtime||04.27.11 at 5:53 pm ET|
Join DJ Bean, Mike Petraglia, Joey the Fish and others from TD Garden for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals vs. the Canadiens. It’s do or die for the Bruins, and the blog will open at 6:30 p.m..
|Bruins aren’t worried about quick turnaround||04.27.11 at 5:24 pm ET|
A lot has been made of the fact that the Bruins and Canadiens will be playing Game 7 less than 22 hours after the conclusion of Game 6, raising questions about whether fatigue could be a factor Wednesday night. But the Bruins themselves aren’t too concerned about the turnaround.
“We’re at the stage here that we got trainers, we got good people around,” Claude Julien said. “That’s all been taken care of, and I’m sure it’s the same for the other side. I don’t think there’s much that gets left behind nowadays. Everybody has a job to do and everybody knows how to do it. You rely on your people around you. And our players are pretty well trained athletes as well that know how to hydrate themselves. Certainly we don’t plan on having that as an obstacle tonight.”
Shawn Thornton said Wednesday hasn’t been any different than any other game day.
“I can’t speak for everybody in the dressing room, but nothing,” Thornton said when asked what, if anything, changed in his game-day routine. “We got in early enough last night that I got the same amount of sleep as I normally would. I drank the same amount of coffee. ‘¦ Back-to-backs aren’t a big deal. We do them all the time.”
|Andrew Ference keeping Bruins’ Game 7 history in the past||04.27.11 at 5:14 pm ET|
Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference has seen the Bruins come up short in Game 7 multiple times. The team has seen their last three seasons end in such games, and on Wednesday they will go for their first Game 7 victory since 1994. The 32-year-old said prior to Wednesday night’s game vs. the Canadiens that he isn’t worried about the past.
“I’m not big on the history,” Ference said. “I always kind of laugh when they say ‘all-time records’ or ‘in past years, the Bruins have done this or that.’
“It really is in the moment. You play for today. What happened last year, the year before or the last 80 years of these teams playing each other, doesn’t have an effect on tonight. What happens out there is determined by the players on these teams.”
Claude Julien can certainly agree with his defenseman. All of Julien’s seasons in Boston to this point have ended with a Game 7 loss, but it’s the last thing the coach wants to think about.
“I think what’s in the past is in the past and you got to play for the present,” Julien said. “This is a pretty simple message, but that’s the message that you have to have playing those types of games. You’ve got to put everything behind you and look at what you need to do here to win.”
|Countdown to Game 7, 5 P.M.: Will the Bruins fail to close again?||04.27.11 at 5:04 pm ET|
With just two hours until the start of Game 7, Nicholas J. Cotsonika of Yahoo! Sports writes that the Bruins have no one — including the referees — to blame but themselves for again failing to put away a team in the postseason. Here’s the final paragraph of the Cotsonika column:
The Bruins weren’t able to bury yet another opponent, and if they don’t bury the Canadiens on Wednesday night, it won’t matter how they tried or how hard they worked. They will have had their chances, too many chances, only to keep falling short and keep their Stanley Cup drought at 39 years and counting.
|Countdown to Game 7, 4 P.M.: Carey Price and the art of winning elimination games||04.27.11 at 4:15 pm ET|
If you get a chance — though I’m sure you are already tuning in — listen to Rob Bradford on The Big Show as he simultaneously defends and yet manages to try and throw Claude Julien under the bus. A masterwork of double speak, really.
As we get closer to the start of Game 7, an interesting look from Michael Farber at how the Canadiens have developed a habit of winning elimination games (a hint: it has a lot to do with Carey Price).
|Countdown to Game 7, 3 p.m.: Downtown Montreal to be closed off||04.27.11 at 3:08 pm ET|
The Canadian Press is reporting that the Montreal police will be closing a large stretch of downtown Montreal during Game 7 on Wednesday.
“The police won’t tolerate any mischief or indiscipline from people or fans wanting to celebrate downtown,” Chief Inspector Sylvain Lemay said.
About a half-mile of the downtown will be closed off in an attempt to slow down the rioting that has become almost an annual happening in the city following a Canadiens series. In May of 2010, police were forced to use tear gas to combat fans after Montreal’s Game 7 win over the Penguins. Stores were looted and bottles were thrown at police in the aftermath of the win, leading to 41 arrests.