Canadiens Strike Early, Beat Bruins To Take 2-0 Series Lead
BOSTON (AP) – The Boston Bruins will head to Lake Placid next week, needing a miracle to get back into their first-round playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens.
Michael Cammalleri and Mathieu Darche scored in the first 2:20, and Carey Price stopped 34 shots to lead Montreal to a 3-1 victory Saturday night and give the Canadiens a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Boston has never, in 26 tries, won a playoff series after losing the first two games.
“Two (wins) is not four,” Price said. “We have a lot of work left to do. We are a good team when we jump out and get the lead and we are playing them real tight and not giving them space.”
Already down after losing the opener 2-0 at home Thursday night, the Bruins lost their captain and best defenseman when Zdeno Chara was scratched after being hospitalized overnight because of dehydration. Coach Claude Julien said Chara was sweating and dizzy after the pregame skate.
“He deserves so much better for what he did tonight, coming to the rink and going out there for the warmup,” Julien said. “Even attempting to come, it was courageous on his part. We missed him. He did the best he could, but to be honest with you it wasn’t even close.”
And neither were the Bruins, for the second game in a row. The Northeast Division champions now need at least one victory in Montreal just to bring the series back to Boston for a fifth game.
Game 3 is Monday night in Montreal, with Game 4 on Thursday night. Between them, the Bruins will practice at the site of the U.S. hockey team’s “Miracle on Ice” in the 1980 Olympics.
“We’ve made it hard on ourselves,” forward Mark Recchi said. “But we’ll give Montreal some credit and go in their building and try to do what they did to us.”
Tim Thomas made 23 saves, but the Bruins fell behind quickly as they struggled to adapt without Chara.
“That’s part of playoff hockey: having the players available that you have in your organization,” Canadiens coach Jacques Martin said.
Patrice Bergeron’s second-period goal cut the deficit to 2-1 and snapped a postseason scoreless streak that dated to the team’s unprecedented collapse after taking a 3-0 lead on Philadelphia in last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals. The loss was Boston’s sixth in a row in the playoffs.
“We all know what’s on the line and what happened last year,” Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. “It is in the back of our mind.”
But Yannick Weber made it 3-1 with 2:29 left in the second, and the Bruins were booed off the ice by their home fans after the period, just as they were in the first. In the third, the “Fire Julien!” chants began in the upper deck as the coach stood behind the bench, arms crossed.
The Bruins pulled Thomas for an extra skater, but did not get a shot off in the final minute.
“Let’s be honest: Our team has not played at all close to the way we can,” Julien said. “If they’re going to score some goals, they’re going to need to earn them more than they have. We had to work pretty hard to get that one goal. I don’t think they had to work as hard to get theirs.”
Cammalleri scored just 43 seconds into the game when he slammed home the rebound of James Wisniewski’s shot after defenseman Johnny Boychuk turned the puck over right outside the blue line. Just 97 seconds later, 6 seconds into a power play, Darche tipped in a shot after a weak clearing attempt by Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference.
It was Darche’s first career playoff goal.
The Bruins finally scored with 12:22 left in the second period when Recchi brought it over the blue line and crossed it over to Brad Marchand. He sent it into the middle and Bergeron redirected it behind Price, who had come out to cut down the angle.
That was Boston’s first playoff goal since Milan Lucic scored in the first period to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead in Game 7 against the Flyers in last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals — a span of 1:33:28. The Bruins blew a 3-0 lead in games and a 3-0 lead in goals in the final game for one of the worst collapses in playoff history, in any sport.
But Montreal restored the two-goal lead with 2:29 left in the second when Lars Eller took a shot from the top of the right circle and Thomas knocked the rebound right to an uncovered Hamrlik.
NOTES: April 16 is the anniversary of Montreal’s victories over Boston to win both the 1953 and ’57 Stanley Cup titles. … Canadiens D Hal Gill played in his 100th career playoff game. The first 36 were with the Bruins. He is still looking for his first goal. … Eller recorded his first playoff point. … Darche’s goal was the first NHL playoff goal by a McGill graduate in 58 years, since Johnny Peirson and Reggie Sinclair each scored in 1953, the school said.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)