Last Thursday, Alexei Kovalev gave a heck of a show with two amazing goals which got him the first star of the game - and the fans' hearts - in a 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins.
Tonight's big star is captain Saku Koivu. As Boston battled hard enough to get to the shootouts, Koivu was the only one to score for a 3-2 win. How did he score? I won't be able to explain that new trick, but it is a new one, that's for sure!
If we take a look at the history between the two teams, a few things might explain the intense atmosphere every time they meet.
-In the 1950s, the Bruins lost three Stanley Cup finals to the Canadiens.
-That famous game that got Maurice Richard suspended, after he hit a referee with his stick, was against the Bruins.
-In the 1970s, the Bruins were first in the standings, but lost the first round to the Habs.
-Semi-finals 1979, game 7: the Bruins -coached by Don Cherry- were leading in the third period; when they got a call for too many men on the ice. Guy Lafleur tied the game and the Habs won the series with a goal by Yvon Lambert, which brought them to the finals and the ultimate trophy.
-1994: the Habs lost the first round to the Boston Bruins (Patrick Roy was put on the sideline due to appendicitis)
-2002: the Habs won the first round in the playoffs (it was also Saku Koivu's return to the game after a long fight against Cancer).
-2004: the Habs (7th) played the Bruins (2nd), and got through the first round in seven games with Jose Theodore recording a 2-0 shutout win over their long time rivals.
*I must be missing a few more, feel free to fill in*
If back in the 1950s the games between the two teams were tense, tonight's meeting was not much different!
Begining the first period, Maxime Lapierre and P.J. Axelsson dropped the gloves. In the second, Steve Begin marked his return to the game with a fight against Bruins Shane Hnidy. On the sequence, Begin was not the only one showing some fighting skills, other players on the ice had a few things to say to each other as well!
Andrei Markov opened the score early in the first. Six minutes later, Bruins Marc Savard tied the game for his 15th of the year. Andrei Kostitsyn gave back the lead to his team from a pass by Mark Streit. But in the second, Petteri Nokelainen brought hope to his team in bringing the score to 2-2.
In the shootouts, neither Marc Streit nor Alexei Kovalev could fool Tim Thomas, who despite the loss, made a few amazing saves during the game. On the other side, Carey Price was perfect in front of Zdeno Chara, Phil Kessel and Denis Wideman. Okay, Kessel actually hit the pipe but still, he did not score and that is what matters (no?!).
Due to an injury gotten in Thursday's game, Mike Komisarek will be out for about three weeks. Apparently, Josh Georges should replace him with Andrei Markov. Komi (or Komo) is well known for his ability to block shots, and his physical play. With him, nobody gets close to the goalie without getting a few warnings such as punches or hits. But tonight, a few Bruins players had to meet with giant rookie defenseman, Ryan O'Byrne who decided to go with some pushes and warnings as well.
Thankfully, big guys such as Francis Bouillon, Roman Hamrlik and Ryan O'Byrne are there for the physical plays; but it is not sure how well the Habs will adjust to the loss of their first-line defenseman. We'll see.
The Habs will play the division rivals on Monday, the Ottawa Senators. The Sens just lost to the Maple Leafs tonight. Another big game to come!