Brendan Gallagher scored the game’s first goal as Montreal beat Boston, 4-2. (Credit: Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)
BOSTON – Another night, another game in which the Boston Bruins surrender the first goal.
It’s been theme of the B’s season just nine days into it, and it was a second period goal by Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher that ensured that it happened to the Bruins for a fifth straight contest. It’s something the club survived on nights against goaltenders like Columbus Blue Jackets starter Sergei Bobrovsky and Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck, but it’s awfully difficult to put yourself in a hole when you’re going up against the best goaltender in the world, Montreal’s Carey Price.
Spotted a two-goal edge through 40 minutes with goals from Gallagher and Phillip Danault, the Bruins clawed back with goals from Dominic Moore and Ryan Spooner, but each time the Bruins came back with a goal to bring themselves within one, the Canadiens re-established their two-goal edge.
First came a Paul Byron shorthanded breakaway for Montreal’s third goal of the game, which made it a 3-1 affair, and then a Torrey Mitchell unassisted dagger put the B’s down 4-2 with 7:13 to go.
The Bruins had chances with a late-game power play, but were unable to find any holes in Price’s game, as the Montreal netminder won his 23rd head-to-head meeting against the Bruins (35 games), and his 11th game in just 18 career games at TD Garden behind a 19-of-21 showing.
The win extended Montreal’s winning streak in Boston to seven games.
Here are four other things we learned from Boston’s 4-2 loss to the Habs.
Spooner responds to healthy scratch in positive way
If you’re looking for positives from the Black and Gold, the play from Ryan Spooner after he was scratched for the home opener has to be high on the list. Reunited on a Bruins second line with David Krejci at center and David Backes on the right wing, the 24-year-old Spooner opened the first period as one of Boston’s best skaters and created countless opportunities for his line.
Spooner found paydirt in the third period, too, as he received a gorgeous cross-slot from Backes on the power play, and struck with his first goal of the season.
Although Spooner’s goal came on the man advantage, it’s clear that this is a player that’s developed some on-ice chemistry with Backes, especially at five-on-five, and it may explain some, not all, of Spooner’s struggles in the first three games of the season. It was then that Backes was centering the top line in place of Patrice Bergeron while Danton Heinen skated as opposite winger on the Krejci line.
Gallagher still supreme pest, Bruin killer
Defenseman P.K. Subban,a player who drew the ire of the entire Garden crowd every single time he touched the puck during his tenure with the Canadiens, calls Nashville home these days. Dale Weise, after a quick stop in Chicago last trade deadline with the Blackhawks, now skates for the Flyers. But the Habs still have a thorn very much pricked into the B’s side, and his name is Brendan Gallagher.
In his 17th career game against the Bruins, the 5-foot-9 winger scored his third goal of the season, and his fifth goal and 18th career point overall against the Bruins. But Gallagher’s impact went beyond a goal that proved pivotal for the Habs in their seventh straight victory on Garden ice.
From the onset of the game, Gallagher was in the Bruins’ heads.
Even when he took a four-minute penalty for a high-stick on B’s rookie d-man Brandon Carlo, Gallagher went right over to a down Carlo, had some choice words, and was greeted by an irate Zdeno Chara. Gallagher received slashes from Colin Miller and the rest of the Boston defense at every stop and any time he even went near Khudobin, and defenseman Torey Krug, sans helmet, did everything he could to try and get Gallagher to drop the gloves with him in the second period.
Moore line gives Bruins significant jump
It’s not always pretty, but Claude Julien has found a line he can deploy in all situations in the Dominic Moore line with Tim Schaller and Noel Acciari on the wings. For the third straight night, the trio put forth a solid, physical contest, and served as a solid complementary presence to Boston’s top two lines. Moore, whose career high in goals is 18, also scored his second of the season.
Habs remain opportunistic bunch
Down by a goal late in the second period, defenseman John-Michael Liles went in on a well-time pinch into the offensive zone. The only problem? He totally, completely missed the puck.
That gave the Canadiens a two-on-one rush the other way, with Miller the lone B’s defenseman between Alexander Radulov and Phillip Danault, and it was Danault that struck as Matt Beleskey did everything but get the puck on his furious backcheck into the defensive zone.
When teams talk about playing the Canadiens, they always mention how the Habs are a team that loves to take advantage of the opposition with their odd-man opportunities. (Who doesn’t?) And though the Habs typically do this by blowing the zone with a blocked shot, their second goal was an example of just how dangerous the Montreal wingers can be if you blow a single assignment.
The Bruins return to the ice for a Tuesday night game with the Minnesota Wild.