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Bruins Live Blog: Lars Eller Empty-Net Goal Seals Canadiens’ 4-2 Victory

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
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Rene Bourque and Daniel Paille (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Rene Bourque and Daniel Paille (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

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Final, 4-2 Canadiens: Lars Eller skated to a free puck in the Boston zone and buried an empty-net goal. This one’s over.

There was some old-fashioned pushing and shoving after the center-ice faceoff following the empty-netter, but it was much ado about nothing.

The Bruins didn’t win tonight, and they didn’t deserve to. Game 4 is Thursday night.

Third period, 10.0, 3-2 Canadiens: P.K. Subban, obstructed by nobody, skated directly into the Montreal net and dislodged it. That stopped play. Now, it’s one last chance for the Bruins.

Third period, 23.5, 3-2 Canadiens: Another neutral zone draw. Bruins with one last chance.

Third period, 1:02, 3-2 Canadiens: Scratch that. Neutral zone draw. Rask on the bench.

Third period, 1:02, 3-2 Canadiens: The Bruins take an icing, which means Rask has to come back on. The Bell Centre is going crazy.

Third period, 2:16, 3-2 Canadiens: With Tuukka Rask on the bench, Andrej Meszaros fired a shot from the top of the right faceoff circle, and he beat Carey Price with Iginla crowding the front of the net. It’s not over yet.

Third period, 3:41, 3-1 Canadiens: A big scrum in front leads to Rask bumping Gallagher and Gallagher accidentally high sticking Torey Krug. No penalties either way. And they play on …

Third period, 4:20, 3-1 Canadiens: Thomas Vanek just hit the crossbar cleanly on a one-time slapper. That would have officially ended this one. As it is, the Bruins remain alive.

Third period, 5:29, 3-1 Canadiens: The game heads to its final TV timeout, and the Bruins are still looking for that second goal.

Johnny Boychuk teed up a blast in an effort toward that goal, but Mike Weaver threw his body in front of it and prevented it from getting anywhere near the net. Seconds later, Zdeno Chara teed up a blast of his own at the blue line, but Brendan Gallagher stood tall (as tall as he can) to block that one, too. The Canadiens’ commitment to shot blocking has been the difference thus far in the series, and it continues to play a huge role in this game.

Third period, 8:31, 3-1 Canadiens: The Bruins killed the Soderberg penalty, and then Soderberg nearly had a breakaway coming out of the box, a la Subban. Yet the long pass was out of his reach. Price then nearly coughed up the puck and gave Soderberg an empty net, but the net got in the way of the Bruins getting that gift goal.

Now, it’s time to score if the Bruins want to really get back into this one.

Third period, 11:19, 3-1 Canadiens: Remember that part about the Bruins needing to play a perfect third period? Well, Carl Soderberg just crashed into Carey Price, and he’ll head to the box for two minutes for goaltender interference.

It’s going to be hard to come back with the Canadiens’ power play (4-for-9) getting to work.

Third period, 12:57, 3-1 Canadiens: The Bruins continue to completely own the puck. The Canadiens continue to do absolutely nothing.

It’s hard to believe the Canadiens haven’t figured out a better third-period strategy by now. They sat on their heels in Games 1 and 2 and it nearly cost them two wins.  I don’t know how Michel Therrien doesn’t have anything better than this up his sleeve.

Third period, 16:58, 3-1 Canadiens: It’s the icing show early on, with each team having two already this period. The Bruins came out of the gate applying serious pressure on Price and the Canadiens, but it hasn’t amounted to much just yet.

Third period, 20:00, 3-1 Canadiens: Here we go. Will the Habs actually apply pressure to the gas pedal in this third period, or will they let the Bruins hang around?

End of second period, 3-1 Canadiens: Brad Marchand nearly made this a very, very differnt hockey game, as he stick-lifted Emelin to create a scoring chance in the waning seconds of the period. Yet Marchand’s shot, like so many others off Boston sticks tonight, went directly into Carey Price’s chest.

Nevertheless, the Bruins — on the strength of their two third-period comebacks in the first two games of this series — have to feel somewhat confident they can do it again tonight. I wouldn’t bet on them necessarily, but at the same time, they’re not a team you want to bet against in the third period. They have a way of kicking it into another gear as the clock ticks toward the end of the game, and the Canadiens have shown issues in closing thus far.

However, if the Bruins want to win, they’re going to have to be perfect. That means staying out of the box (Subban’s roughing penalty remains the lone call of this game), playing smart defensively (maybe cut down on the breakaways allowed) and keeping the ice tilted toward the Montreal end of the ice. All of that is a lot easier said than done, so we’ll see how this one plays out over the next 20 minutes.

Second period, 2:12, 3-1 Canadiens: Off an offensive zone faceoff win, Bergeron got himself in front of the net. Torey Krug sent a shot toward net, and Bergeron redirected it to beat Price.

The Bruins now have some life.

Second period, 6:08, 3-0 Canadiens: For the second time tonight, the Bruins let a forward get completely behind them. This time, it’s Dale Weise, and this time, it resulted in a Montreal goal.

Boychuk and Meszaros let Weise get behind them, and Weise beat Tuukka to the five-hole, and the Habs lead 3-0. This one’s starting to look like it’s over.

Second period, 6:30, 2-0 Canadiens: Torey Krug burst across the blue line to keep a puck in the Montreal zone, and seconds later he took a pass from Iginla and tried to roof one on Price. However, Krug didn’t get enough under it, and Price made yet another chest save.

The play was reviewed to see if Price carried the puck across the goal line, but replay showed he was pushed in by Boston.

Second period, 10:14, 2-0 Canadiens: Daniel Paille just sent a pass across the goal mouth to Carl Soderberg, but Carl couldn’t corral it to bury the puck inside the post. That came just after Jarome Iginla hit the other post with a long snap shot. The Bruins aren’t finishing their few chances tonight, and if they don’t change that soon, they could find themselves in a lot of trouble.

Second period, 14:45, 2-0 Canadiens: The Bruins continue to fire shots on net, but they continue to do so without any sort of net-front presence to speak of. So long as Carey Price can see the shot, he’s going to make the save. Slap shots from 40 feet away are not going to get it done against him — or most NHL goalies, for that matter.

Second period, 20:00, 2-0 Canadiens: What will the next 20 minutes bring? We shall see. Second period has begun.

Thomas Vanek, who was shaken up by that reckless Subban hit, is back on the Montreal bench.

End of first period, 2-0 Canadiens: So it wasn’t necessarily the absolute worst possible outcome for the Bruins after 20 minutes. But it was close.

The nightmare scenario for the Bruins was to go into the Bell Centre, let the crowd get worked up into a lather and fall behind big. That’s pretty much what happened. The Bruins had their puck possession in the offensive end, but didn’t really generate any memorable scoring chances. That bit them in a big way when the Canadiens yet again capitalized on their own chance to take a 1-0 lead.

And when the Bruins had a chance to use their power play to seize some momentum and even the score, they instead had a putrid showing with the man advantage and allowed Subban to hop out of the box and score on a breakaway to boot.

The good news, if you want to call it that, is that there are 40 minutes for the Bruins to come back, and they’re used to working with stricter deadlines. We’ll see if they can wake up, but another period like that will have them buried so deep that they won’t be able to engineer one of those comebacks they’ve made their calling card.

First period, 5:16, 2-0 Canadiens: Well how’s that for a swing?

P.K. Subban jumped out of the penalty box, took a feed from Lars Eller and deked Rask to the ice before burying the game’s second goal.

He was happy about that one, especially after being so furious about the penalty call, and the Habs lead 2-0.

First period, 7:22, 1-0 Canadiens: P.K. Subban left his feet to throw an elbow at Reilly Smith. He was able to sidestep the brunt of the hit, sending Subban crashing into the boards and into teammate Thomas Vanek.

Subban is miffed in the box right now, though I’m not sure why. You can’t be that reckless.

First period, 9:03, 1-0 Canadiens: Thomas Vanek is alive.

The guy who was a no-show in Game 1 showed up with two power-play goals in Game 2, and he just created the first goal of Game 3.

From the right point, Vanek faked a slap shot and instead sent a pass across the ice to Tomas Plekanec, who had a wide open net in front of him. Plekanec doesn’t miss from there, and the Habs lead 1-0.

There were three Bruins standing between Vanek and the net, which allowed for the wide open passing lane.

P.K. Subban also made a nice subtle drop pass back to Vanek to set up the play as well.

First period, 9:52, 0-0: The Bruins have made this game look much like the majority of the first two games, where they’re owning the puck in the offensive end and controlling the pace of play. The Bruins have seven shots on net, compared to Montreal’s four, but also like the other two games, it hasn’t meant much in terms of affecting the scoreboard.

Both goalies have certainly been sharp enough thus far, though neither has been asked to do too much. The Bruins’ fourth line was sent out to take an offensive zone draw after a faceoff, and Shawn Thornton was a man absolutely possessed, and he nearly went 1-on-5 to score a goal. He at least created a chance and forced another icing.

First period, 13:41, 0-0: The Bruins have done a good job of settling down and establishing some possession in the offensive end, but the better news for Boston is that  Zdeno Chara has returned to the bench.

That remains the story of the game thus far, because it’s hard to believe the Bruins would have been able to stay afloat for very long in an environment like the Bell Centre without their most steadying presence on defense. It will remain challenging with him back, of course.

First period, 17:45, 0-0: Early scare for Boston — Zdeno Chara has headed down the tunnel after taking a Bournival slash to the left hand. Obviously, that’s not an injury the Bruins can afford to suffer.

First period, 18:55, 0-0: Bad start for Boston, as Montreal had a long possession off the opening faceoff, and then the Boston defense just lost track of Rene Bourque. His shot missed wide, but that’s a big mistake early on.

First period, 20:00: Plekanec won the opening faceoff, and Game 3 is officially underway.

7:07 p.m.: The pregame ceremonies are complete. Time for hockey in just a few short minutes!

7 p.m.: The starting lines tonight:

Boston

Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Reilly Smith

Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk

Tuukka Rask

Montreal

Michael Bournival-Tomas Plekanec-Brendan Gallagher

Josh Gorges-P.K. Subban

Carey Price

6:45 p.m.: From the Bruins’ pregame warmups, the lineup looks the same. That means Daniel Paille will most likely be on the third line, Jordan Caron will be on the fourth line, and Justin Florek as well as Matt Bartkowski look to be the healthy scratches. That means Andrej Meszaros will be in the lineup on defense again.

For the Canadiens, it does indeed look like Douglas Murray will be playing on defense, in place of Francis Bouillon. Travis Moen is also taking Brandon Prust’s spot, it would appear.

6:17 p.m.: I already mentioned that Tim Peel and Chris Rooney were going to be the refs tonight, and I indicated they’d be a part of the story in some way. What I didn’t anticipate was that the duo would be a part of the story before the game even started.

Gresh & Zo broke it down in depth earlier, but basically, Chris Rooney calls more penalties than any other NHL referee, and Tim Peel is No. 2 in the NHL in terms of refs who call more penalties on the road team.

Add it up, and it looks bad for the Bruins, but I wouldn’t put too much faith or worry into those statistics. Every game is different. Let’s give them a fair chance out there … before we rip them.

5 p.m .: The Bruins and Canadiens have played 144 minutes of hockey thus far in this second-round series, and all they’ve got to show for it is a deadlocked 1-1 tie.

Both teams have engineered massive swings of momentum throughout the two games, with the Bruins storming back from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits in Game 1, only to lose in double overtime, and then rallying from a 3-1 deficit in Game 2 to win 5-3 in regulation.

These games have been tremendously exciting, and there’s no reason to think that’ll change as the series heads north to Montreal.

By now, the teams have an idea of what the other is trying to do. The Canadiens’ best strategy is to draw penalties and capitalize on the power play, where they are functioning at an absurd success rate of 44.4 percent through two games. As a team, they own a 26.7 percent shooting percentage while on the man advantage, which means both that they’re making the smart plays when on the power play and also that the Bruins are simply doing a terrible job of disrupting what the Canadiens are trying to do.

On the flip side, the Bruins’ strategy has been a bit less clear. They’ve lived up to their reputation as the best third-period team in the NHL, but their problem is that they’ve needed to be. They’ve made it extremely tough on themselves, taking penalties and falling behind in both games. That’s a great way for a great team to find itself facing elimination earlier than necessary, and it’s something the Bruins really need to clean up if they hope to go as far as they really should in this postseason.

Obviously, officiating has played a big role in the series thus far, and there’s a good chance you’ll be hearing from Tim Peel and Chris Rooney tonight. Hopefully, for the sake of hockey, they don’t call a penalty on Claude Julien for using naughty words.

As for the rest of the game, I’ll have updates and analysis from the pregame lineups all the way until one of these teams owns a 2-1 series lead, so check back throughout the night.

Read more from Michael Hurley by clicking here, or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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