Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens: Biggest Takeaways from Game 4

James OnuskoContributor IIIMay 8, 2014

Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens: Biggest Takeaways from Game 4

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    The Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens are waging a fantastic battle for the Atlantic Division crown.

    While just one goal was scored on Thursday night, there was no shortage of intrigue and action throughout the night.

    As reported on CBC's website, the Boston Bruins scored early in overtime and defeated the hometown Habs. The unlikeliest of heroes tallied the winner.

    Red Deer, Alberta, native Matt Fraser now has one goal in one career NHL playoff game. The series is knotted at two and is now a best of three.

    The Bruins have regained home-ice advantage, which could prove decisive.

    Let's take a look at the biggest takeaways from Game 4.

The Montreal Canadiens Matched Boston's Physicality

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    It has happened over the course of the entire series, but it was very apparent that the Montreal Canadiens are no longer intimidated by the Big Bad Bruins.

    There is no question that the Bruins are the bigger team, but the Canadiens are not playing scared. Montreal's defencemen are stepping up on the Boston forwards in the neutral zone, and several Montreal forwards are taking the body on the tiring Boston defence corps.

    With both Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid out of the lineup, it is clear that the Canadiens are focusing on hitting Dougie Hamilton and hulking Zdeno Chara as often as possible.

    Boston no longer seems capable of bullying the Canadiens.

Bruins Dominated the Corsi Number at 5-on-5

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Bruins continued to dominate the Habs in terms of Corsi numbers. It was 64-50 in this important metric at five-on-five, as the Beantowners did hem the Canadiens in their own end for long stretches.

    One major difference from past patterns was that the Canadiens had a relatively strong third period. However, the Bruins were trying to create more traffic in front of Carey Price and directed shots at him from just about anywhere in the offensive zone.

    The Bruins are likely frustrated by Price's exceptional play, but if they continue to play strong defensive hockey, they don't need to beat the Montreal goalie very often to win.

Tuukka Rask Was Dynamite

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    Tuukka Rask's goaltending had left a lot to be desired after three games. He hadn't reached the .900 mark in save percentage in any game prior to Thursday.

    He redeemed himself completely in Game 4 with an exceptional performance.

    The Finnish standout pitched a shutout and was Boston's best player on this night. Yes, the Bruins played some inspired defensive hockey. But Rask made a number of great saves throughout the night.

    When his club needed him most, he stood tall in the third period as the team withstood the Montreal onslaught that saw them send 14 of their 33 shots at him.

    If there were some issues with Rask against these bitter division rivals, he seems to have resolved them as the series returns to Boston.

Montreal's Penalty Killing Continues to Be Superb

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Montreal Canadiens' penalty-killing units have destroyed the Bruins in this series. The Bruins are not looking dangerous at all and have failed to score when up a man.

    Special teams often seem to carry a lot of momentum in the playoffs, and this is reflected in Montreal's inspired play when short-handed.

    The Canadiens are blocking shots, pressuring the puck and seemingly have little respect for the Bruins' power play.

    The series could be much different if the Bruins had been able to produce with the man advantage. This is a key element to focus on as the teams continue this fascinating series.

     

    All stats are courtesy of NHL.com unless otherwise noted.