By Mike Miccoli, Boston Bruins correspondent
You really can’t make this up.
As far as storylines go, the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens on-ice rivalry could fill anthologies in libraries across North America. The two-storied franchises will meet for the first time in the 2010-11 season with Boston only a win behind Montreal for first place in the Northeast Division. Coming into the game, the Bruins have played only 12 games thus far, the least of any team in the NHL, and are fresh from a 7-4 win in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night; a win fueled by five unanswered goals from the Bruins in the third period. The B’s boast a 8-3-1 record against the Canadiens’ 9-5-1, good enough for the Habs to stake their claim at the top of the division.
And of course, to add just a little sprinkle of pressure to their first meeting this season, if the Bruins can pull out a victory against their rivals, the black and gold will get their first stay atop the Northeast Division in this very young season. A moral victory, perhaps, for Boston who leads the league with only 24 goals allowed while off to their best statistical start since the 2004-05 NHL lockout.
Tonight, for the first time this season, it’s only right to have a live blog going for the first showdown of these two teams. Follow along here for more updates throughout the game.
0:00, 3rd: Canadiens pull out a 3-1 victory on the road against Boston. Montreal played great all three periods while Boston burnt themselves after two. Blame it on the back-to-back against the Pittsburgh? Sure. B’s just ran out of gas at the worst time. Rightfully so or not, the spotlight now focuses on Tuukka Rask who is winless for the Bruins at 0-4-1. Who saw this one coming?
1:45, 3rd: Bruins pull Rask for an attempt at two goals. Should be interesting to see if the B’s are able to get a couple with the extra attacker on the ice.
9:30, 3rd: Another puck trickles past Rask and suddenly this doesn’t look too much like a goaltending clinic anymore. Scott Gomez nets a shot past Rask to put Montreal ahead by two. Not much you can say about the goal other than Rask just lost track of it. Bruins need to respond quick or else things might get ugly at the TD Garden.
19:31, 3rd: Well, that was quick. Canadiens’ captain Brian Gionta scores a power play with his first shot on net all game, just 29 seconds in. Caron missed out on covering Gionta giving him the break to put the feed from linemate Michael Cammalleri past Tuukka Rask. This is the first time all season the Bruins have given up more than one power play goal in a game.
0:00, 2nd: Although the Bruins end the second period shorthanded after a blatent interference call on Chara (did I jinx that one?), both teams should still be pleased with the gameplay. The teams are tied with 26 shots apiece with Rask and Price continuing to be outstanding for their respective teams. Notably, Caron’s left hand was being addressed by a trainer on the Boston bench after suffering the effects of a Chara slap shot. Though Caron returned to the ice a few shifts later, his absence was felt briefly as the Bruins doubled-up on their lines for the time. Great game to catch if you’re at the Garden and the third period should be just as fun.
4:42, 2nd: You can’t say enough about Zdeno Chara’s play this season. Chara has stepped up and became the leader and impact on the ice that the Bruins so desperately needed last season. As one of Chara’s biggest critics, it’s clear to see just how important he is to this team. He’s already logged 9:23 minutes of ice time and doesn’t look like he’s stopping anytime soon. Good to have him back. And healthy, too.
12:22, 2nd: Not a ton of whistles to start things off in the second, but more strong play from both sides seems to be the common theme. The Bruins had some great chances on a (get this) Maxim Lapierre penalty for (ready for it?) diving but were unable to capitalize on the advantage. Price and Rask are continuing to put on clinics coming up big when necessary. Most notably, Price stopping an in-your-face slapper from Lucic as the Lapierre penalty expired and Rask with a diving save in the slot. Things are starting to get chippy though as Thornton mauled Markov after a scuffle in the Canadiens’ crease. Both men, including a third-man-in Gregory Campbell, will go to the box. Canadiens go on their second power play of the game.
0:00, 1st: Not a bad period for Boston but certainly not their best either. Lucic, Bergeron and Nathan Horton continue to be the best line for the Bruins, but some impressive individual play from Mark Recchi, Jordan Caron and Brad Marchand throughout the period. Marchand is continuing to get under his opponents’ skin and had the lofty task of clashing one-on-one with Jaroslav Spacek midway through the period. The Canadiens have been impressive too, especially Carey Price, stopping 12 of the 13 shots that the Bruins fired on net. A definitive ‘Old Time Hockey’ game on our hands at the Garden. Shifty wi-fi and all.
4:11, 1st: Bruins’ captain Zdeno Chara unloads a rocket from the top of the face-off dot after some great cycling from Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron to tie the game. The goal was Chara’s fourth of the season and second goal in as many games. Chara has been huge for Boston this season, finally reclaiming his impact that was missing at times last season. Chara has six points in his last nine games played. Not bad, for the B’s big man.
6:52, 1st: Canadiens are doing a great job getting in front of Boston’s passes and shot attempts. During the Bruins’ only power play on an Roman Hamrlik roughing call, Montreal was able to limit the B’s to only one shot on goal. After Seguin flashed some fancy moves in the slot, his shot was blocked with a dive from Andrei Markov. Good all around efforts from Montreal getting into Boston’s heads.
14:40, 1st: P.K. Subban strikes first on the Montreal power play after an exquisite dive from the Canadiens caused Tyler Seguin to go to the box for tripping. It was Subban’s first career NHL goal. From up in the press box, it looked like the puck tipped off a stick and went in. Still, the Canadiens get the first tally on the type of goal Rask has been seeing a lot of in his starts: soft and tippy.
6:30 pm: Looks like Tuukka Rask will occupy the same spot the Dave Matthews Band did at the TD Garden for the past two nights and start against the Montreal Canadiens. Julien was mum on his starting goaltender up until pre-game when he told some of the French-media here that Rask was his guy. Rask is still looking for his first win of the season and holds a record of 0-3-1 with a 3.45 goals-against average. Carey Price starts for Montreal coming into tonight’s game with an 8-5-1 record and an impressive 2.28 G.A.A.. Not bad for the guy who’s own team generally hates him.
Remember this? You only need to see the first 20 seconds to get what I mean.
I had too.
Follow Mike on Twitter at twitter.com/mikemiccoli for more updates during all Bruins’ home games.