Hockey fans around Boston can now breathe a little bit easier, as the second longest losing streak in Bruins' history has finally come to an end. On Sunday afternoon, the Boston Bruins found themselves in a similar position to each of their last two games, leading the Montreal Canadiens 2-0. However, Tuukka Rask wasn't about to give an inch, stopping all 36 shots he faced, while Marco Sturm supplied one more goal of insurance, giving the visiting team a 3-0 win at the Bell Centre.
The Bruins and Canadiens were meeting for the second time in four days, and the early part of the game reflected that heated rivalry. In fact, Marco Sturm and Scott Gomez picked up matching penalties for roughing at the 39-second mark of the opening stanza. Pushing and shoving continued throughout the first period, culminating with a fight that may have surprised the majority of the fans. Blake Wheeler dropped the gloves for the first time in his career, taking on Montreal's Ryan O'Byrne. Wheeler got in a couple of quick punches, before losing his balance, thus putting an end to the bout.
Wheeler's fight put some energy onto the Boston bench, as the visitors began to play better as the period progressed. With 2:28 left in the first period, that energy resulted in the first goal of the game. Marc Savard poked the puck free along the left wing boards, carrying it deep behind the Canadiens' net. After hesitating for a few seconds, Savard banked a pass off of the boards to Adam McQuaid at the right point. McQuaid let a slap shot go, getting a deflection from Montreal's Ryan White to beat Jaroslav Halak. The goal was the first of McQuaid's NHL career.
As time ticked away in the first frame, it looked like the Bruins would carry their 1-0 lead into the intermission. However, Marco Sturm had other ideas, doubling the edge on the scoreboard. Derek Morris flipped the puck into the left corner, leading to a race for possession. Patrice Bergeron won the race, tapping the puck to Sturm. Sturm curled around the cage, before swinging a pass back to Zdeno Chara at the left point. Chara wristed a shot toward the net that got blocked, but the rebound kicked out to Sturm, who had little trouble potting his team's second goal. Sturm's 17th of the season came with just 3.6 seconds remaining in the first period.
For the third game in a row, Boston had a two-goal lead. When the second period got underway, fans had every right to be nervous, as the Canadiens came out with a new sense of life. Montreal limited the Bruins to just three shots on goal during the second period, while peppering the Boston goal with 15. The best opportunities came off of the stick of Tomas Plekanec, who was stopped on a breakaway, as well as on a chance from the high slot. Tuukka Rask stopped the other 13 shots as well, keeping the home team off of the scoreboard, and helping his club dodge a major bullet.
One area that had plagued the Bruins in recent weeks had been the ability to finish teams off, scoring a third goal for some extra insurance. Midway through the third period, they got that goal, essentially putting the Canadiens away. Patrice Bergeron won a defensive zone face-off, with Mark Recchi chipping the puck forward on the right side. Montreal had possession briefly, before turning the puck over to Bergeron. Bergeron tapped a pass ahead to Marco Sturm, sending his linemate into the offensive zone. Sturm snapped a shot from high in the slot, using a deflection by Josh Gorges to completely change the direction of the shot, fooling Halak.
From there, victory was all but locked up for the Bruins, who kept the Canadiens at bay for the remainder of the afternoon. When the final buzzer sounded, the losing streak was over, and Boston had a second straight win on Super Sunday, shutting out Montreal 3-0 on the road.
Tuukka Rask picked up his third shutout of the season between the pipes for the Bruins, stopping all 36 shots he faced. Jaroslav Halak was the losing goaltender for the Canadiens, allowing three goals on 27 shots.
At the AHL level, the Providence Bruins were 2-1 this past weekend, losing to Portland on Friday, before back-to-back wins over the Worcester Sharks. Friday night's game was a 3-0 loss, as Portland's Jhonas Enroth came up huge with a 38-save effort. On Saturday, the Baby B's erased a 3-2 deficit with three goals in the third period, including two by Mikko Lehtonen, as well as the second goal of the game by Trent Whitfield. Sunday was another high scoring tilt, as Providence used six different goal scorers to beat the Sharks 6-2.
Despite all of the losses, the Boston Bruins are still in okay shape, as they are tied for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins will try to build on this victory on Tuesday night, when they visit the Buffalo Sabres. The Providence Bruins are back in action on Friday night, when they play host to the Hartford Wolf Pack.
1. BOS McQuaid (1) (Savard) 17:32
1. BOS Sturm (17) (Bergeron, Chara) 19:56
3. BOS Sturm (18) (Bergeron) 9:49
1. BOS Sturm- Roughing 0:39
1. MON Gomez- Roughing 0:39
1. BOS Wheeler- Fighting 12:17
1. MON O'Byrne- Fighting 12:17
2. BOS Morris- Tripping 12:39
BOS Tuukka Rask (11-7-4): 36 shots, 36 saves
MON Jaroslav Halak (17-9-2): 27 shots, 24 saves
Shots on Goal:
Three Stars of the Game:
1- BOS Tuukka Rask
2- BOS Marco Sturm
3- BOS Patrice Bergeron