MONTREAL – No one would say that the Bruins-Canadiens rivalry is at its peak.
The teams are at opposite ends of the Atlantic Division standings and haven’t met in the postseason in nearly a decade. But for the players on both sides of this longtime conflict, it rarely matters the circumstance and setting when the two foes square off.
That much was evident on Tuesday night as Boston and Montreal did battle for the first time this season.
“It’s a historic rivalry and I absolutely love being a part of this. It’s a special thing that goes way back to the ones that wore the jersey before us….I got a little emotional. When we come out, they play that song,” Jeremy Swayman said of the Canadiens’ entrance song, ‘Fix You’ by Coldplay.
“It’s just something special. It’s been happening for a while. Literally, almost tears came to my eyes. And that’s what I love about this game is being part of the Original Six rivalry like that, you know it’s more than just the game itself.”
While the Canadiens gave Boston their best shot through the game’s first two and a half periods, Boston showed why it’s been the best team in hockey all season long over the final 10 minutes. Patrice Bergeron tallied the game winner with just 2:55 remaining before David Pastrnak sealed things with an empty-netter to secure a 4-2 victory at Bell Centre.
“I feel like against Montreal, it’s always a special place to play, a special team to play against for myself, but I think for the whole group,” said Bergeron. “I think we all recognize the rivalry but also the tradition on both sides. It’s always a lot of fun. It brings out the best in everyone. You can tell, too, Montreal wanted it and played a great game against us.”
Video: Bergeron lifts Bruins to 4-2 win
Bergeron, who grew up a few hours away near Quebec City, was playing in his 50th career game (regular season and playoffs) at Bell Centre. He also became the 13th Bruin in history with at least 60 career regular-season points against Montreal (24-36-60 in 75 games).
“It’s an organization I respect a lot. I grew up a Nordiques fan from Quebec City, but I do understand and recognize the tradition and everything it’s been through and all the legends that have been wearing that jersey,” said Bergeron. “For me, it’s a lot of pride to play for the Bruins with that same kind of tradition and legends of the game and be a part of it. I always try to enjoy and make the most of it.”
The Bruins were also aware that the game meant a little extra for coach Jim Montgomery. Boston’s bench boss, who hails from Montreal, attended a game or two a year at the old Montreal Forum as a kid and was getting his first taste of the rivalry from within.
“That’s something he talked about,” said Bergeron. “I love his communication. He always lets us know how he feels. Tonight, that’s what was nice, he did mention that it’s a game that meant a little more to him because it’s his hometown team and grew up watching them.
“It speaks volumes of the connections he’s making with the guys and his style of coaching. It’s also taking ownership and accountability in the locker room to make sure we’re at our best.”
Despite a number of Grade-A chances for the Bruins in the first period, Montgomery felt that it took his charges a bit of time to get adjusted to the energy with which the Canadiens were playing.
“It was intense out there,” said Montgomery. “You could tell emotions were running high early. I thought they played a really passionate game and I thought that it took us a while. I didn’t like our first period, but I thought we got better every period and I thought our emotion and execution got better throughout the game.”
Video: Montgomery shares his thoughts after the B’s beat MTL
After the Canadiens took a 1-0 lead on Kirby Dach’s power-play marker at 9:11 of the second period, Boston responded with a power-play tally of its own when Taylor Hall struck from the doorstep to knot things up with 5:48 to go in the middle frame.
The teams traded goals again midway through the third as David Krejci gave the B’s a 2-1 lead at 9:45 of the period when he tipped home a Pastrnak shot from the high slot, before Dach notched his second of the game just 1:46 later.
“They definitely came out hard. It’s a rivalry game, it’s very easy to get motivated for the game,” said Pastrnak, who registered a four-point night (goal, three assists). “These games it never matters who is in a playoff spot, if you’re at the bottom of the standings or up top, you’re always going to see a tight match and that’s the type of game we played today.
“Every time you play Montreal – and I’m sure it’s the same for Montreal when they play us – it’s a special game. It’s fun, no matter which building we play, either here or home. A lot of history. You will always get motivated to play and it’s always gonna be a tight game. It does have a special feeling and it’s a lot of fun.”
The Bruins took the lead for good with just under three minutes to go when they worked a faceoff play to perfection. Bergeron won the draw back to Pastrnak, who cut across the left circle and fired a shot on Montreal goalie Samuel Montembault. After the rebound bounced by Brad Marchand, Bergeron swooped in and ripped home the go-ahead goal, marking his 79th career game-winner.
“We expected as a staff for us to get better significantly after the first and we did,” said Montgomery. “That continues. We just have game breakers that can make unreal plays in big moments. That was a typical playoff goal that wins playoff games, [the] Bergeron goal…there’s a lot of poise to our team and a huge belief that we will find a way.
“I think Patrice said, ‘Never in doubt,’ after the game and it’s the way we feel. We feel if it’s tied, we’re gonna come out on top.”
Video: Bergeron scores the game winner vs. Montreal
Wait, There’s More
- With the win in Montreal, the Bruins reached the 80-point mark (38-5-4) in their 47th game of the season, making them the fastest team to that plateau in NHL history, per NHL Stats. Philadelphia (49 GP in 1979-80) and Montreal (49 GP in 1943-44) are the only other teams to reach 80 points in less than 50 games. “A lot of it is confidence, we keep winning,” said Pastrnak. “It’s a big part of it. But at the same time, we are all going…all four lines are there for each other and we are all playing together. We are a tight group so that’s probably the big one.”
- Pastrnak buried an empty-netter with 49 seconds remaining for his 37th goal of the season. It also marked the 277th goal of his career, tying him with Wayne Cashman for ninth on the Bruins’ all-time list. “I’m not focusing on that much,” Pastrnak said of his mounting goal tally. “Obviously I’m a goal scorer and that’s what I’m here for to score goals. I’m happy the puck’s going in and I’m feeling good…I’m just going game by game. Just trying to keep scoring, that’s my job.”
- Bergeron went 0-for-8 at the dot in the first period before rebounding to take 10 of his final 15 draws, including a win just before his game-deciding tally. “We had a set up play and it worked out well,” said Bergeron. “Went to Pasta for that shot. I was trying to beat my coverage to try and find a loose puck and it trickled though a couple skates. We got lucky on that one. Got through the screen, he couldn’t really see anything.”
- Montgomery on the performance of Bergeron and Krejci: “The intestinal fortitude on those two top centers,” he said, “it’s why the Bruins have been so great for so long when you have two great centers like that.”
- Per NHL Stats, Pastrnak became the ninth player in Bruins history to have a four-point game in Montreal and first since Tom Fergus (3-1-4) in Nov. 1983. He also became the second player in team history to reach 30 goals and 30 assists in 47 games or fewer more than once in his career (42 games in 2019-20), joining Phil Esposito (five times).
Video: Pastrnak puts up 4 points in Bruins 4-2 win at MTL
This news is republished from another source. You can check the original article here