For the Boston Bruins, last year's season series with the Montreal Canadiens couldn't have gone any worse, as they posted a dismal 0-7-1 record against their long-time rivals. This season, however, the Bruins have turned the tables.
Last night's 3-1 victory at the TD Banknorth Garden was the Bruins' third straight against the Canadiens this year, improving their record against their Northeast Division rivals to 3-0-1 in the 2008-2009 season.
Early on, the Canadiens carried much of the play, out-shooting the Bruins 17-9 in the first period. The Bruins, however, escaped into the first intermission with a 0-0 tie, largely due to the stellar play of goaltender Tim Thomas, who earned the No. 1 star of the game.
3:24 into the second period, Andrei Kostitsyn snapped the scoreless tie. With the Canadiens on the power play, Kostitsyn was able to pick up a rebound in front of the net while falling to the ground, and put it past Thomas for Montreal's only goal of the game.
The game had its share of physical play, with Zdeno Chara delivering many punishing hits. But strong checking wasn't the only contribution that Chara made for the Bruins.
Chara scored two goals, including the game-winning goal which came on a five-on-three power play at 18:24 of the second period, a one-timer that beat Canadien's goaltender Jaroslav Halak glove-side. Andrei Kostitsyn's five-minute major for boarding was one of the two penalties that set up the five-on-three.
Montreal was almost able to tie the game with 2:16 remaining in the third period, but Tim Thomas thwarted their attempt. Thomas dove across the net to make a brilliant glove save, robbing Andrei Kostitsyn of his second goal of the game.
David Krejci sent the crowd into a frenzy just over a minute later when he one timed a pass from Michael Ryder into the net to give the Bruins some insurance with 1:11 left in the game.
After the game, Bruins fans had plenty of reason for optimism, as this was yet another big win in a season where the Bruins look primed for a deep playoff run.
The Bruins will now start a short two-game road trip tomorrow night at the New York Islanders with a comfortable 12-point lead in the Northeast division over the Canadiens and an 11-point lead in the Eastern Conference.