Did Bruins Finally Find Their Footing vs. Montreal with Late Flurry in Game 2?

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Did Bruins Finally Find Their Footing vs. Montreal with Late Flurry in Game 2?
Brian Babineau/Getty Images

Carey Price was stellar once again. P.K. Subban further established his identity as the most hated man in Boston. Thomas Vanek scored twice one day after telling reporters (via The Boston Globe's Nancy Marrapese-Burrell) that he needed to be better.

The Montreal Canadiens were half a period from taking both games in Boston and heading to home ice with a chance to take a stranglehold advantage with even a split at the Bell Centre next week.

The Boston Bruins had other ideas, however. Flipping that switch they seem to have had all season long in the third period, the Bruins took total control of the contest in a matter of minutes.

A Dougie Hamilton snapshot got them to within one. Patrice Bergeron tied things up three minutes and 21 seconds later. Reilly Smith scored the winner five minutes and 32 seconds after the Hamilton goal and Milan Lucic added an empty-netter for insurance a couple of minutes after that.

The Montreal collapse was complete. The Bruins had stolen a 5-3 victory in Game 2 of their second-round series.

Goaltender Tuukka Rask secured his first career victory on home ice against the Habs. Boston's forwards finally figured out how to beat Price when it counts.

As for the series going forward, it could be that the Bruins have found their turning point.

Before the third period of Saturday afternoon's contest, the Canadiens were clearly in the Bruins' heads. Rask was uncharacteristically banging his stick and acting rattled. Guys like Lucic and Brad Marchand were giving Price plenty of space to move around his crease. They were getting chances, but not the results.

That all changed when they started doing the things that earned them the Presidents' Trophy as the best team in the regular season. With four third-period goals Saturday to the Canadiens' one, the Bruins moved to an NHL-best plus-57 in the final frame of regulation this year, as reported on the CBC broadcast.

They knew what they had to do, but for whatever reason didn't do it until more than 130 minutes passed in Round 2 against the Canadiens.

Brian Babineau/Getty Images

"We've got to do a better job at finding rebounds, being there in front of him making it hard for (Price)," Bruins center Bergeron told the CBC's Scott Oake after the contest. "I thought we did that before the end."

It was reminiscent of a big game last spring that saw the Bruins swing things in a positive manner. A comeback from a 4-1 deficit in Game 7 of the first round of the Toronto Maple Leafs a year ago sparked the Bruins all the way to the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks.

"It was a little similar," Bergeron told Oake when the comparison was made. "Hopefully we don't have to do that every time."

If they play they did for the last 10 minutes of Saturday's game, they won't have to come back very often.

"They're a good team. They've won a Cup before. They know what it takes to win," Subban told reporters, via the NHL Network broadcast. "I'm not surprised at the way they played putting that last 10 minutes together. Now we know what they're capable of doing. We've got to prepare and get better."

Considering all the demons the Bruins exorcised Saturday from their head-to-head struggles with the Canadiens, it's no surprise the Boston players were feeling pretty fantastic about the victory.

To get back to the Stanley Cup Final, there will be plenty more wins necessary, starting with three more against the Canadiens.

They've shown now, in the playoffs, that it's a matter of getting traffic in front of the net and winning more battles for pucks in the corners against a smaller but very physically willing Canadiens club.

Now they just have to do it consistently.

There's no doubt the Habs will attempt to make it as difficult as possible.

After Game 2, reporters asked Price what effect the Bruins' comeback might have on him and his team. He had nothing but confidence and calmness in his replies.

Get ready for a long series if Price is right and comes back strong in spite of the collapse. He'll need to be stellar again if the Bruins are playing their best.

 

Steve Macfarlane has been covering the NHL for more than a decade, including seven seasons for the Calgary Sun. You can follow him on Twitter @MacfarlaneHKY.

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