A tightly contested affair between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins came down to two contested goals in overtime on Monday. One ended up counting, with both having been scored by Boston, giving the Bruins a much-needed 2-1 win to help close the gap between them and the division-leading Habs and snap their three-game losing streak. The overtime loss meanwhile gave the Habs points in their last five games.
With Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid off for hooking, the Canadiens missed several high-danger scoring chances, including an open net by Habs blue-liner Nathan Beaulieu.
Those would no doubt come back to bite the Habs on this night, but they were still overshadowed by what would come: Bruin Torey Krug’s hit on Andrew Shaw, which caught the latter with his head down and forced him temporarily out of the game. No penalty was called on the play.
A pseudo fight between Krug and Brendan Gallagher followed soon thereafter, with nary a punch thrown. It was more of a wrestling match, with Gallagher scoring the decisive victory and sending a message. Considering the outcome of the game, he might have settled for scoring a goal instead.
The game stayed goalless until Bruins forward Austin Czarnik, on his 24th birthday, opened up the scoring with one minute left in the frame. Coming down the wing, he netted his third on the season on a shot that eluded Habs goalie Carey Price.
Shaw, who came back for the second, got some measure of revenge, by hitting McQuaid into a stanchion. It was no Zdeno Chara vs. Max Pacioretty, circa 2011, but it served to remind everyone that this was indeed a Habs-Bruins game and that the intensity rarely dies down during heated affairs such as these.
In spite of the 1-0 score at the time, the action was almost non-stop. Habs fans may not have gone home happy, but they would have been satisfied. Habs forward Paul Byron guaranteed that at least, by getting the Habs on the board with just over three minutes remaining, scoring on a backhand off a loose puck in the slot and forcing overtime.
Paul Byron ties the game for the #Habs pic.twitter.com/u7XAAlTqvx
— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) December 13, 2016
The action came fast and furious in the extra frame, with both teams enjoying chances. Unfortunately for Montreal, the best ones came off the sticks of Bruins players, and they got the goals to prove it.
One minute in Price made a sparkling toe save on a partial David Pastrnak break. Replays showed that David Krejci was able to bury the rebound but also that Pastrnak needlessly barreled into Price on the play, preventing him from making the second save.
The Bruins nearly had their second game-winning goal of the period taken back at 3:20 when Ryan Spooner went five-hole in close on Price. On a challenge initiated by Toronto, Brad Marchand’s initial zone entry came under fire. Ultimately, all video evidence was inconclusive as to whether or not he was offside on the play, leading to a well-earned Bruins victory.
The Bruins now stand eight points back of the Habs and four up on the Tampa Bay Lightning for the final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division, with one more game played in each case. The Habs and Bruins next meet on February 12 in Boston.
BOS – Austin Czarnik (3) assisted by Adam McQuaid and Ryan Spooner
MTL – Paul Byron (10) assisted by Torrey Mitchell and Andrei Markov
BOS – Ryan Spooner (10) assisted by Torey Krug and Austin Czarnik
THW Three Stars
First: Tuukka Rask (30 saves)
Second: Ryan Spooner (1 goal, including GWG, 1 assist)
Third: Paul Byron (1 goal)
Montreal Canadiens vs. San Jose Sharks
Bell Centre – 7:30 p.m. EST on Friday, December 16
Broadcast channels – SNE, RDS, CSN-CA
2016-17 Season Series: December 1 – Sharks 2 – Canadiens 1