NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, March 24th
(All times eastern)
Montreal Canadiens (40-27-7) at Boston Bruins (40-22-10), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - A crucial battle in the race for the Northeast Division
title is on tap tonight in Boston, as the Bruins welcome the rival Montreal
Canadiens to TD Garden.
Boston enters tonight's clash with a three-point lead and two games in hand
over the Canadiens, giving the Bruins the inside track on winning the division
However, the Habs have won four out of five this season against Boston and
Montreal has claimed nine of 11 and 21 of the last 28 encounters overall. The
Canadiens also have nine victories in their last 13 trips to Beantown.
The Canadiens won a 4-1 decision in Montreal the last time they faced the
Bruins on March 8. That game was overshadowed by Boston defenseman Zdeno
Chara's controversial hit on Montreal forward Max Pacioretty.
Chara hit Pacioretty near the boards and forced him into a dangerous spot
where a pane of glass separates the benches. Pacioretty's head hit the padded
support before he tumbled straight to the ice.
Chara was handed a major penalty for interference and a game misconduct on the
play, but the NHL did not fine or any suspend the big defenseman for his role
in the collision. Meanwhile, Pacioretty suffered a severe concussion, as well
as a fracture of the fourth cervical vertebrae and has not played since.
However, those expecting the Habs to try and get revenge for the Pacioretty
hit tonight could be in for a disappointment. Habs veteran Scott Gomez warned
against his team focusing on the Chara incident.
"This is when the older guys and the vets have to make sure the younger guys
know you have to keep your emotions in check," Gomez said. "You don't want to
get a penalty that's going to cost the team. What's done is done. The best
revenge is to get two points, and that's all we're going for."
Montreal needs the points not just to try and catch the Bruins in the division
race, but to also avoid falling in the Eastern Conference playoff push. The
Canadiens are currently sixth in the East and three points in front of the
seventh-seeded New York Rangers.
The Canadiens are coming off a loss on Tuesday, the club's fourth setback in
seven games. Montreal was shut out 2-0 by the visiting Buffalo Sabres as Ryan
Miller was spectacular in net with 31 saves.
Carey Price was the hard-luck loser in net for Montreal, making 22 saves on 23
"You have to give Miller credit. He played well and they played well in front
of him," said Price. "In fact, both teams played well defensively."
The Canadiens are expecting to have forward Mathieu Darche back in the lineup
tonight after he missed the last 15 games with a groin injury. Darche has nine
goals and 21 points in 51 games this season.
Montreal forwards Jeff Halpern and Tomas Plekanec are both questionable for
tonight's test with lower body injuries, while defenseman Brent Sopel could
return after missing the last seven games with a hand issue. Sopel last played
on March 8 against the Bruins.
The Bruins, meanwhile, won for just the second time in eight games (2-3-3)
with Tuesday's 4-1 triumph against New Jersey. Chara posted a goal and two
assists as Boston downed the visiting Devils at TD Garden.
Shawn Thornton, Milan Lucic and Mark Recchi all scored for the Bruins and Tim
Thomas was stellar between the pipes, making 30 saves.
"It doesn't matter who we were playing tonight, it was good to get back on the
right track," said Thomas. "Being at home, it's nice what we were able to
Tuesday's game marked the start of a three-game homestand for the Bruins, who
are 17-12-5 as the host this year. Montreal has an 18-17-1 record on the road.
03/24 10:47:59 ET