BOSTON — General manager and head coach Bob Gainey feels his Montreal Canadiens have a pretty simple way of getting back into their first-round playoff series with the Boston Bruins.
Marc Savard had two goals and two assists as the Bruins grabbed a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference quarter-finals Saturday with a 5-1 thumping of the Montreal Canadiens.
“Listen to the coach,” Gainey said when asked what his team needed to improve on heading into Game 3 on Monday night in Montreal.
Chuck Kobasew, Shane Hnidy and Michael Ryder also scored for the Bruins while Tim Thomas made 30 saves in goal.
Hnidy was only in the lineup because Bruins defenceman Matt Hunwick underwent an emergency splenectomy Saturday afternoon. The surgery was successful and Hunwick is resting comfortably in hospital, but his plight inspired the Bruins.
“We talked about it, and we figured he had a tough day so let’s go out and let him have a nice ending to it,” Savard said. “He’s a big part of this team and we can’t wait to have him back.”
Alex Kovalev scored the lone goal for the Canadiens and Carey Price allowed five goals on 26 shots through two periods before being replaced by Jaroslav Halak to start the third.
“When you look at shots and scoring chances, they were pretty even,” Gainey said. “But we give really good chances to score, we give opportunities on the power play against a team that’s been a strong power play team all year long. So we walk into their strengths, and when we do that our goalie will be put into a vulnerable situation.”
The Bruins may potentially lose the services of power forward Milan Lucic, who cross-checked Maxim Lapierre in the face with 4:32 left in regulation and received a match penalty, a five-minute major for high-sticking and a cross-checking minor.
Lucic was originally assessed a game misconduct, but it was changed to a match penalty after the game. According to the NHL rule book, a player who receives a match penalty “shall be automatically suspended from further competition until the Commissioner has ruled on the issue.”
“If he gets suspended for that it’ll be fine with us,” said Lapierre, who had a bruise that looked like the outline of a stick under his right eye. “It doesn’t hurt in the playoffs.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien did not feel that Lucic did anything terribly wrong.
“He might have lost his composure,” Julien said. “But what you have to remember is that he got elbowed in the head and then high-sticked by (Mathieu) Schneider. Then Lapierre comes in, Lapierre who’s been an instigator the whole series and even in the regular season, and what (Lucic) did was react to him coming in. It wasn’t pre-meditated.”
Julien added that the replays he saw indicated to him that Lucic hit Lapierre in the helmet with his glove, and not his stick.
“Had the stick hit him in the head, I think Lapierre would have been down,” Julien said. “But Lapierre stayed up and kept going at (Lucic).”
This is only the sixth time in 32 playoff series between the storied rivals that the Bruins have jumped out to a 2-0 lead. The Bruins won the series the first four times it occurred, but the last time was in 2004 when the Canadiens erased a 3-1 series deficit to win it in seven games.
“It doesn’t matter what’s happened here over the first two games,” said Habs defenceman Mike Komisarek. “We’re looking to getting back home in front of our fans and getting back into the series in Game 3.”
Montreal was done in by a severe lack of discipline compared to a composed Bruins team that capitalized on five power play opportunities to score three times.
The Canadiens handed the Bruins four of those power play chances with infractions in the offensive or neutral zones, while Boston gave up a single power play opportunity after allowing no goals on only two chances in Game 1.
“It’s not like they goaded us into penalties, they were just lazy, unnecessary penalties,” said Christopher Higgins, who took one of those offensive zone penalties in the first. “Any kind of positive play we had was halted by the penalties we took.”
Gainey shuffled his lineup for Game 2, dressing seven defencemen and only three centres, but it did nothing to spark his team.
The Canadiens controlled the play early in the first, but it didn’t prevent the Bruins from jumping out to a 2-0 first-period lead for a second straight game.
With Sergei Kostitsyn in the penalty box for a neutral zone hooking penalty, Kobasew took a big hit along the boards from Komisarek to keep the puck alive and it squirted right to Savard in the high slot. He made no mistake, wiring a wrist shot past a surprised-looking Price for his first of the playoffs at 9:59.
The Bruins made it 2-0 at 15:12 when Mark Recchi took a shot from the high slot that Price had trouble handling, leaving the rebound to his right. Kobasew beat Saku Koivu to the puck and buried it for his first career playoff goal.
The Canadiens got to within a goal quickly in the second when Kovalev used Zdeno Chara as a screen to beat Thomas on a wrist shot for his second of the series at 0:46.
But the Bruins kept coming, with Hnidy getting his first career playoff goal on a wrist shot from just inside the blue-line at 5:45, Savard scoring his second of the game on a power play at 8:13, and Ryder beating Price with only 2.3 seconds left in the period on a high wrist shot to the glove side on another power play to make it 5-1 Boston.
Notes: The Canadiens scratched forwards Tomas Plekanec, Matt D’Agostini, and Gregory Stewart along with defencemen Ryan O’Byrne and Patrice Brisebois. … Habs defenceman Andrei Markov missed a sixth straight game with a suspected knee injury. … Byron Bitz was a healthy scratch for the Bruins. … Canadiens defenceman Francis Bouillon returned to the lineup after missing 24 games with a groin and abdominal injury, but he didn’t come out for the second period. … Sergei Kostitsyn and Yannick Weber also dressed for Montreal.