The Bear Cave

September 4, 2009 9:09 AM

Top Game #1: They Have Beaten Them, and Tonight, They Have Beaten Them Up!

For a little more than one year, the Boston Bruins had nothing but trouble when they played against the Montreal Canadiens during the regular season. Starting on March 20, 2007, the Bruins lost 12 consecutive regular season contests against their biggest rivals, picking up only two points from a pair of shootout losses.

Although Boston did force a seventh game during the clubs' 2008 playoff series, one of the goals for the 2008-09 Bruins was to put the streak of misery to bed. In the end, they did just that, winning the final five head-to-head games during the regular season, before sweeping Montreal out of the playoffs. So, what turned things around, you ask? Turn the calendar back to November 13, 2008, when the Canadiens made their first trip of the season to the TD Banknorth Garden. The Bruins beat their rivals, and they did so in the most convincing of fashions, leaving the visitors with a night to forget. This game earns the top spot on the countdown of the top ten Boston Bruins games from the 2008-09 regular season.

One night earlier, the Bruins got an emotional lift, as they earned a 2-1 shootout victory in Chicago. Hoping that the momentum would carry over, the home team grabbed the first goal of the game 2:31 into the opening stanza. Maxim Lapierre won a neutral zone face-off for the Canadiens, but miscommunication between Mike Komisarek and Andrei Markov led to a turnover. Shawn Thornton picked up the loose puck between the defensemen, skated in on Carey Price, and jammed a backhander through his legs.

The score remained 1-0 for most of the first period, but with three minutes to go, the fourth line cashed in again. Shawn Thornton used a stick check at center ice to force another Montreal turnover. Chuck Kobasew pounced on the loose puck, sending Stephane Yelle in on the right side of the offensive zone. Yelle handcuffed Price with a bit of a long shot, causing the rebound to pop into the air. When the puck landed, Yelle was right there to pounce on it, beating the fallen netminder from the left side of the crease.

The bleeding was not about to stop there for the Canadiens. With 1:42 remaining in the first, Guillaume Latendresse got sent to the box for interference, putting Boston on the power play. With one more clear of the defensive zone, Montreal could have been out of the period, but Patrice Bergeron kept the play alive at the left point. He sent the puck down to Michael Ryder, who immediately dished a pass over to Marc Savard. Savard had a clear lane to the net, but waited, as Marco Sturm entered the slot. Savard gave Sturm a perfect pass, and Sturm did the rest, beating Price high over the glove with a little more than six seconds left. The tone had been set, with the Bruins leading by three after one period of play.

Boston picked up right where it left off as the second period began. This time, Carey Price was the guilty party, as he earned a penalty for playing the puck in the restricted area behind his net. Thanks to brilliant puck movement by the Bruins, the power play lasted for just 13 seconds. Zdeno Chara one-touched a pass over to Patrice Bergeron at the top of the left circle. Bergeron skated in, and tried putting a shot through a few bodies in front of the goal. Josh Gorges blocked Bergeron's attempt, but deflected it to Marco Sturm in the process. This gave Sturm an early Christmas present, as he tucked the puck into the right side of the cage.

With 6:26 left in the second period, the Canadiens broke the shutout. Alex Tanguay skated in on the right side of the offensive zone, and flipped a shot in on Manny Fernandez. Fernandez gloved it down, but had a hard time covering up for a face-off. Saku Koivu swooped in, grabbed the loose puck, and wrapped in a backhander. The second half of the middle frame was Montreal's best effort of the night, but the Bruins still held a 4-1 advantage when the buzzer sounded.

Early in the third period, the Bruins added to their lead. Marc Savard got kicked out of an offensive zone face-off, giving Phil Kessel an opportunity to take the draw. The face-off ended up going forward for Boston, allowing Milan Lucic to step up and take a hack at the puck. This caught Price by surprise, as Lucic's shot sailed through the goalie's legs and in for the fifth goal of the evening.

Less than three minutes later, fans at the TD Banknorth Garden were given one more reason to cheer, as Milan Lucic and Mike Komisarek finally agreed to drop the gloves. In case Boston wasn't dominating the game enough to begin with, Lucic absolutely handed it to his combatant with a series of right-handed punches.

The fight could have easily served as the exclamation point for the night, but the home team thought that it might be fun to put another tally on the scoreboard. Chuck Kobasew took a hit along the right wing boards in the neutral zone, but still managed to get a pass off for Stephane Yelle, entering the offensive zone. The play ended up being a 2-on-1 for the Bruins, but Yelle elected to keep it himself, blasting a slap shot through Price for marker number six.

Despite a combined total of 23 shots on goal in the final period, the game was more than decided by that point, with Boston earning the convincing 6-1 win. Because of the lopsided score, the play of Manny Fernandez could have been lost on a night like this. However, Fernandez made some key early saves, keeping the Bruins in the lead. The Boston backstop ultimately stopped 27 of the 28 shots he faced for the victory. Carey Price was not nearly as sharp on the other end of the ice, allowing six goals on 31 shots in the loss for Montreal.

The November 13th blowout definitely wasn't the closest game of the season. However, if there's one thing that Bruins' fans enjoy watching, it is when their team beats the Canadiens. As you've read, that was more than the case on this night. As NESN's Jack Edwards said during the game's broadcast, "They have beaten them, and tonight, they have beaten them up!" Edwards had a knack of coming up with entertaining phrases throughout the season, but that one might just take the cake.

I hope you've enjoyed this trip back through time, as the 2008-09 Boston Bruins certainly gave everyone some wonderful memories. September has now arrived, meaning that it is almost time for the 2009-10 team to see if they can top some of these moments.

2008-09 Boston Bruins Top Ten Games:
1. November 13th- Montreal 1 @ BRUINS 6
2. November 1st- Dallas 1 @ BRUINS 5
3. October 25th- Atlanta 4 @ BRUINS 5
4. January 27th- Washington 2 @ BRUINS 3 (OT)
5. April 9th- Montreal 4 @ BRUINS 5 (OT)
6. April 4th- New York R. 0 @ BRUINS 1
7. March 7th- Chicago 3 @ BRUINS 5
8. February 1st- BRUINS 3 @ Montreal 1
9. November 12th- BRUINS 2 @ Chicago 1 (SO)
10A. October 27th- BRUINS 1 @ Edmonton 0 (OT)
10B. October 28th- BRUINS 1 @ Vancouver 0

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