Max Pacioretty scored twice against Niklas Svedberg Thursday. (Getty Images)
MONTREAL — The two-game Canadian road trip the Bruins had this week was an opportunity for them to show they can win games that aren’t at home and against bad teams. Instead they looked more like the struggling team they were early on in the season, just without Zdeno Chara and David Krejci.
Claude Julien‘s decision to start Niklas Svedberg over Tuukka Rask looked good early on, as the Bruins held a 1-0 lead after a first period that saw Svedberg deny Max Pacioretty on the doorstep, but things gradually fell apart for the Bruins for a second straight night. With Thursday’s 5-1 loss to the Habs (box) in their final trip to the Bell Centre this regular season, the Bruins fell to 0-2-0 this season against their biggest rivals. They also lost both games of the Toronto-Montreal trip by an aggregate score of 11-2.
Entering Thursday, Svedberg had only started against two teams this season: the Sabres twice and the Islanders once. The Islanders are nothing to sneeze at, but the Sabres entered Thursday last in the NHL with eight points. The Habs proved to be a much different animal, as Max Pacioretty scored a pair of goals as part of a run of four consecutive goals for the Habs beginning in the second period.
Because it’s Montreal and we technically didn’t learn why Alexander Khokhlachev was recalled (see below), this will be a six things we learned. Here are the other five:
BRUINS’ BIG DOGS GETTING BEAT
In Toronto, we pointed out that Patrice Bergeron had been on the ice for four five-on-five goals against in a two-game stretch. Make it seven in three games, as Bergeron’s line and the Dougie Hamilton – Dennis Seidenberg pairing allowed two second-period goals Thursday and allowed another in the third.
For as swell as it is that Bergeron’s line was producing more recently and that Hamilton has played big minutes and put up points (including a first-period power play goal Thursday), the Bruins aren’t happy when anyone gives up goals in bulk, let alone their best players.
The last time Bergeron had a minus-3 rating in a game prior to Thursday night was on Feb. 11, 2011. Bergeron has now been a minus player in seven of his 18 games this season; he was a minus player just 14 times all last season.
MILAN LUCIC WAS NOT THE GUY WHO DID THE DUMB THING
Thursday’s game was Milan Lucic‘s first game back at the Bell Centre since doing that thing he did with his hand last month. Rather than making another not-so-wise choice, however, Lucic was the guy drawing the dumb penalty Thursday night.
After placing a big open-ice hit on Jiri Sekac late in the second period, Lucic was approached by P.K. Subban. Lucic seemed interested in dropping the gloves, but Subban instead cross-checked him. Knowing Subban wasn’t going to fight him, Lucic didn’t retaliate and Subban was the only player given a penalty.
The Bruins didn’t score on the power play, but that was one of the minor, minor victories they could take from the night.
DALE WEISE STILL MATTERS TO THIS RIVALRY
Dale Weise, who first made enemies with the Bruins as a Vancouver Canuck in the 2011-12 regular season and only heightened things last postseason, figured to remain a big part of the Bruins-Canadiens rivalry this season. That was put in doubt, however, when the man Milan Lucic not-so-affectionately referred to as a “baby” after Game 7 was made a healthy scratch by the Habs in the first meeting between the teams this season.
Weise was in the lineup Thursday, however, and he made quite the impact. First, Weise fought and defeated Gregory Campbell in the opening minutes of the game. In the second period, the veteran winger was tripped by Dennis Seidenberg while on a breakaway, resulting in a penalty shot on which he scored easily on a gaping five-hole exposed by Svedberg. He also picked up the primary assist on Max Pacioretty‘s second-period goal. He also took a goaltender interference penalty late in the game, which earned him a punch to the head from Adam McQuaid.
Speaking of five-hole goals for Weise, that’s a spot that’s been good to Weise in this building against the Bruins. Weise beat Rask on a breakaway in Game 3 of the second round last postseason.
WE LEARNED NOTHING ABOUT WHICH GUY IS AILING…
The Bruins recalled Alexander Khokhlachev on an emergency basis Thursday, with Claude Julien saying prior to the game that the recall had nothing to do with David Krejci being out and that a different player would be a game-time decision against the Habs.
Khokhlachev didn’t take a single line rush in warmups and was made the healthy scratch. The good news for him: he gets the NHL pay. The bad news: The Moscow native’s parents, who now live in Toronto, made the trip to Montreal for the game.
Mark Divver of the Providence Journal tweeted earlier Thursday that Carl Soderberg was the player in question. Soderberg played through a wrist injury earlier in the season but did not miss any games.
… BUT MATT FRASER SOMEHOW IS NOT
Matt Fraser fought back in his days of junior hockey in the WHL and dropped the gloves twice last season, but he says he doesn’t consider himself a fighter. Instead, he considers himself a player who wants to show his team he’s willing to do anything.
That’s admirable, but maybe Fraser shouldn’t be so willing to fight for a little bit. The third-line left wing dropped the gloves in the second period and got clocked by Nathan Beaulieu amidst multiple punches he took from the Habs defenseman. Fraser didn’t look in great shape as he went straight to the training room rather the penalty box.
Perhaps surprisingly, Fraser returned to the game in the third period.