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Canadiens manage to protect lead, beat Bruins for series edge
Montreal, QC (SportsNetwork.com) - Entering the first pivotal game of this Eastern Conference semifinal, the Bruins had accumulated an incredible 14 wins over 15 tries in Game 3 of any playoff series under Claude Julien.
Make it 14 of 16.
P.K. Subban and Dale Weise scored on breakaways, Tomas Plekanec tallied the first goal of the contest and Lars Eller the last, as Montreal bested Boston by a 4-2 count to take a 2-1 edge in the best-of-seven set.
"We need energy from every line. As you can see, it was crucial. When we're not producing energy, it's bad for us," noted Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien. "We took the lead and kept it. That was a big boost. I liked the mindset with our team from the start. We needed to have the right attitude and approach, to play with passion in front of our fans."
Carey Price stopped 26 shots for the Canadiens, who made a two-goal advantage stand up for the first time all series.
The Habs were up 2-0 in Game 1, blew it but won in double overtime, then squandered a 3-1 edge late in a 5-3 defeat in Game 2. Things were different on Tuesday, however, and the Habs can gain a stranglehold on the defending Eastern Conference champions with another home win on Thursday.
Patrice Bergeron and Jarome Iginla tallied for the Bruins, while Tuukka Rask gave up three goals on 25 shots for the visitors.
"As usual, we kind of battled back and got ourselves in the game," Julien said. "We dug ourselves a hole too big to get out of tonight. They played a better game than in Boston but we weren't good enough at the start to give ourselves a chance."
Thomas Vanek clanged a shot off the post from the left circle as 4 1/2 minutes remained in the contest, and it was a bad omen for the hosts who were clinging to another two-goal advantage in the late stages.
Rask was sent to the bench for an extra attacker with more than 2 1/2 to go, and the Bruins edged within a goal after Iginla got a piece of an Andrej Meszaros left-point shot and sent it past Price with 2:16 on the clock.
Price came across his crease to make a stick save on Bergeron from the left side with just under 40 seconds showing, then Subban was lucky to not receive a penalty for knocking the net off its moorings to prevent a Bruins' counterattack inside the final 15 seconds.
The Canadiens won the ensuing right-circle faceoff and Eller hit the empty net.
Montreal struck with just over nine minutes remaining in the opening period. Subban kept the puck alive on the right boards and after coming back to the right point, Vanek's slap pass to the opposite circle found Plekanec for the easy deposit.
Subban was sent off for a questionable roughing call on Bruins forward Reilly Smith with 7:22 before intermission, but made his impact just over two minutes later. A failure in defensive coverage by the Bruins allowed the reigning Norris Trophy winner to skate free up the middle after exiting the box, and he scored on a breakaway to make it 2-0.
"I'm not a dirty player. I don't try to elbow guys. It was a good call," Subban said. "Coming out of the box, (Eller) made a great play, found me cutting to the goal. I went in on net, I was really surprised that my shot found the target. I buried my head, made a move one way and netted it."
Weise tripled the Habs' edge at 13:52 of the second thanks to another breakaway tally, this one thanks to a long lead pass from Danny Briere through two zones.
"We have to be better on those plays, not like tonight," Rask said of the gaps in defensive coverage exploited by the Canadiens. "I think we didn't play as we did during the last 10 minutes of the last game. That's not offensively- oriented enough."
Bergeron then chopped Torey Krug's right-point offering out of mid-air and the fluttering puck zipped past Price to put the B's on the board with 2:12 remaining in the middle period.
Boston had two quality chances near the midway point of regulation. Price sealed off enough of the net that Iginla's right-wing blast struck the far post, and later on the same shift, Carl Soderberg was off-balance when Daniel Paille passed him the puck to the open right side and Price smothered the harmless shot.
"It took a play like that to wake us up in the second," Bergeron admitted of his marker. "We tried to continue that. There were shifts which provided us with the moves to catch them, but we fell short."
With an assist, Subban recorded his fifth multi-point effort of the 2014 playoffs, and leads all defensemen with 11 points (3G, 8A), and extended his point streak to six contests ... According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Subban became the third Habs defenseman to post at least three straight multi-point games in the playoffs, joining Larry Robinson (1978, 1987) and J.C. Tremblay (1971), and is the first Habs blueliner with points in six straight since Robinson did so against the Nordiques in the Adams Division finals from April 21-May 2, 1985 ... Prior to Tuesday, the Bruins' lone loss in a Game 3 was against the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference semifinals, a 3-2 overtime defeat on May 6, 2009 . Boston lost that series four games to three ... Montreal improved to 5-0 in these playoffs when scoring first.
05/06 23:52:57 ET
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