MONTREAL - The Montreal Canadiens shake their heads in wonder at how they always manage to beat the Boston Bruins.
The Canadiens made it 6-0 for the season and nine in row since last season against their Northeast Division rival with a 8-2 trouncing of the Bruins at the Bell Centre on Tuesday night.
They pumped in four goals on only seven shots against Boston starter Alex Auld in the first period and got another four on 17 shots against Tim Thomas, who earlier in the day was named to the Eastern Conference all-star team.
"Our stats against Boston are unbelievable," said Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau. "Thomas has one of the best averages in the league, but against us, we always seem to find a way to score."
"I don't know what it is," added winger Tom Kostopoulos, who had a Gordie Howe hat-trick - a goal, an assist and a fight - and was named the game's first star. "Each time we play them, we don't look at what happened in the past.
"We definitely got the bounces. But I have no explanation for why we beat them. They're a great team."
Andrei Kostitsyn scored twice and had an assist, while Michael Ryder, Maxim Lapierre, Bryan Smolinski, Mike Komisarek and Alex Kovalev also scored for Montreal (25-15-8), which is 8-2-2 in its last 12 games. Mark Streit contributed three assists.
Marco Strum and Petteri Nokelainen scored for Boston (24-19-5), which had its first regulation time loss in five games.
"We gave up eight goals on 24 shots and that explains a lot," said Boston coach Claude Julien. "We'd like to do better against that team, but it doesn't tarnish what we do against other teams.
"It wasn't a question of not showing up. We just seem to always play like that against this team. We gave them a lot of gifts."
The Canadiens have one of the league's worst home records, now 9-8-5, but they have outscored Boston 21-7 in three wins at the Bell Centre and 32-12 overall this season. The Bruins have not won in Montreal since Dec. 4, 2006.
The celebration may not last long as the Canadiens next play Thursday night in New Jersey, where they have not won since Feb. 5, 2002.
"We need the points,' said Komisarek. "It doesn't matter how much we beat up on Boston, they've got pride and so do we when we go to Jersey.
"We aren't going to just throw our sticks down there."
The Bruins started back-up Auld to try to break the jinx, but he was beaten four times - once by each Montreal line.
Wild action in the opening seconds saw Kostopoulos spin and score into an open side at 0:14 of the first frame. Ryder then went to the net to tip Saku Koivu's pass in at 3:12.
Sturm got one back at 12:09, banging in Phil Kessel's rebound on a two-on-one.
But Kostitsyn had Komisarek's shot go in off his leg at 16:44 and, with three seconds left in the period, Lapierre beat Auld with shot from the right circle.
Smolinski was alone in front to bang in Steve Begin's pass 5:45 into the second and Komisarek scored from the slot at 7:04.
Kovalev got his 21st on a power play 7:10 into the third frame, while Nokalainen tipped in Dennis Wideman's point shot just after a power play ended at 13:17.
Kostitsyn got his second of the game on a power play at 17:44, with an assist from his younger brother Sergei.
The rookie Sergei Kostitsyn also held up well in his first NHL fight in the third period against Chuck Kobasew.
"His first fight - I think it's a not bad fight," said Andrei Kostitsyn of his brother's effort.
"I wasn't surprised - he played (junior) for the Hunter brothers in London," added Carbonneau. "He has character.
"Andrei is a little more calm. Sergei has an edge to him."
Begin returned to the lineup after missing 19 games with a shoulder injury and had two assists. But he left in the third period after an open-ice hit from behind by Shane Hnidy, who then was challenged to fight Kostopoulos.
The Bruins had two scares - Zdeno Chara was hit on the right hand by a Francis Bouillon shot in the first period and Kessel jammed a shoulder while bumping Bouillon in the second - but both returned to action after treatment.
Koivu's assist tied him with Pete Mahovlich for 16th in Canadiens all-time scoring with 569 points.
Notes: Bruins winger Glen Murray (hip flexor) skated for a second day in a row, but was not in the lineup for a 14th straight game. Patrice Bergeron (concussion), P.J. Axelsson (foot) Andrew Alberts (concussion) and Manny Fernandez (knee) remain out. . . . Montreal defenceman Patrice Brisebois has two broken bones in his left foot, but continues to skate. He and Mathieu Dandenault sat out.