With the Eastern Division semi-finals series tied 2-2 it swung back to Boston’s TD Garden for game 5. On a warm day in Boston the Montreal Canadiens would try to bounce back from a heartbreaking 1-0 loss in overtime in a game in which they dominated. There were no changes in the Boston line-up, but Michel Therrien did make one. He decided to reinsert Brandon Prust after he missed the last two games of the series. With Prust centering the 4th line veteran Daniel Brière was left in the press box. The thinking was that Therrien wanted a more physical presence on the 4th line especially going into Boston. What he did not take into account was the fact that Brandon Prust is obviously not 100% physically and could not bring to the game the robust play that he has built his career on. As a result the 4th line was not really a factor in the game. In all honesty none of the Canadiens’ lines were effective. This was a game dominated by the hometown Bruins.
Game 5 was the worst game played by the Habs yet in the 2014 playoffs. They were second in every aspect of this game. Puck possession, physical play, goals scored, goaltending, power play, hustle, and forechecking. Using their superior size the Bruins got into the Montreal end quickly and laid the body on Montreal defensemen not allowing the bleu-blanc-rouge out of their own end easily or to use any of their speed.
The first chance of the game went to Boston and it was a sign of things to come. Just 2:15 into the 1st period Reilly Smith, the throw in of the Tyler Seguin-Loui Eriksson trade, eluded Josh Gorges coverage and got off a quick wrist shot from the deep slot that hit the post to Carey Price’s left. No goal, but it did foreshadow how dominant Boston would be throughout most of the game.
Montreal was afforded chances early on in the game when they had a couple of power play chances. Suddenly the man advantage looked again like it had in the last half of the regular season. Meaning that it created nothing and looked rather stagnant. As a result they were not able to gain some momentum in the other team’s rink and killing off the penalties so effectively seemed to spur on the Bruins.
One thing that Therrien and Habs’ fans have come to rely on in regards to veteran centreman Tomas Plekanec is on-ice intelligence and solid defensive play. This was not so in this game. A bad time for Plekanec to suffer several brain cramps. Each of the first 3 Boston goals was as a result of poor decision making, a lapse in defensive coverage or being in the penalty box. At 13:20 of the 1st period Boston opened the scoring. Plekanec placed his team in a tough position by icing the puck. He seemed unwilling to take a hit (as many of his teammates also seemed to do during the game) and as such dumped the puck into the Boston end two strides short of the red line. Carl Soderberg won the ensuing face-off against Plekanec in the Montreal zone and instead of staying with his man Plekanec allowed Soderberg to get away from him. This kind of space and freedom allowed Soderberg to get to a pass from behind the net from Eriksson. Soderberg roofed the shot up and over Price’s right shoulder.
The Boston 3rd line has been impressive of late. In this game they accounted for 2 goals, 3 assists and ended collectively a plus 6. As a line they have scored 3 of the Bruins’ last 5 goals and have proven a handful for Montreal defenders.
Plekanec’s poor play continued with two penalties in short order to end the 1st and begin the 2nd. The Bruins’ power play, which had been mired in an 0-for-5 year dry spell against Montreal in the playoffs, cashed in on both chances. They scored 2 goals in 34 seconds. The first was by Smith and the second by Jerome Iginla. Iginla’s shot found its way through Price’s 5-hole. He was alone in front of Price on goal and got a great pass from along the boards by Tory Krug.
Barely into the 2nd period and Boston had a 3-0 lead. Montreal was never really in it. Eriksson scored another Boston goal in the 3rd period. Despite the fact that Montreal did score 2 power play goals courtesy of Brendan Gallagher and a P.K. Subban howitzer the 4-2 final score flattered them. It really wasn’t that close a game.
Montreal did not beat Tuukka Rask for a long time. Until Gallagher’s goal in the 2nd period Montreal had not scored since the 3rd goal in game number 3. It was a long time between goals for Montreal. Almost 130 minutes to be exact.
On a 3rd period power play the woes of Max Pacioretty continued. He missed an open net that seemed like he has totally lost his confidence. This was his 13th playoff game and Pacioretty only has 1 lonely goal. Not good enough from a guy that had 39 in the regular season. To have a hope of coming back and winning the series Montreal’s best players have to be their best. Thomas Vanek, Pacioretty and David Desharnais have to be better.
Next game in the series will be on Monday night in Montreal. Down 3-2 Montreal’s back up against the wall and will be playing for their playoff lives.
-On-Ice Officials: Referees – Eric Furlatt and Wes McCauley
Linesmen – Jay Sharrers and Shane Heyer
-Goals: 1st Period:
13:20: Boston – Carl Soderberg assisted by Matt Bartkowski and Loui Eriksson
1:04: Boston – (pp) Reilly Smith assisted by Carl Soderberg and Dougie Hamilton
1:36: Boston – (pp) Jerome Iginla assisted by Tory Krug and Zdeno Chara
14:39: Montreal – (pp) Brendan Gallagher assisted by Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Markov
14:12: Boston – Loui Eriksson assisted by Carl Soderberg and Matt Fraser
17:31: Montreal – (pp) P.K. Subban assisted By Max Pacioretty and Andrei Markov
-Shots on Goal: Montreal – 31
Boston – 30
-3 Stars: 1) Carl Soderberg – Boston Bruins
2) Tuukka Rask – Boston Bruins
3) Brendan Gallagher – Montreal Canadiens
-Final Score: Montreal – 2
Boston – 4