MONTREAL – The Montreal Canadiens avoided playoff elimination—but it won’t be long before they’ll have to do it again.
Brian Gionta and Michael Cammalleri scored during two separate two-man advantages and Carey Price had perhaps his best game of the post-season as the Canadiens forced a decisive Game 7 in their first-round series with a 2-1 victory over the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night.
Game 7 is set for Wednesday night in Boston, with the Bruins looking to beat Montreal for only the ninth time in 33 playoff matchups.
“As soon as we got into the room there was zero talk about this game,” said Cammalleri. “It was ‘Let’s get some rest and roll into the next game—roll it over like its the same game.’
“We’ll get as much rest as we can and get our gear on again.”
Dennis Seidenberg scored for Boston, which played more than half the game without Milan Lucic, who was ejected in the second period for a hit on Montreal’s Jaroslav Spacek.
The Bruins still outshot the Canadiens 32-27.
“It’s Game 7, everything’s thrown out the window,” said Gionta. “It doesn’t matter what has happened in the series so far.
“It’s whoever prepares best. You’ve got to enjoy the win now but also figure out why you got the win and channel that.”
The pressure has shifted squarely to the Bruins, who hope to erase the bad taste of last year’s playoffs when they became only the third team in NHL history to lose after leading a series 3-0.
They are up against a Montreal team that came back to win two Game 7s in last year’s post-season before falling to Philadelphia in the conference final.
“Two goals 5-on-3—that’s all there was on their side,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien, whose job may hang on winning the series. “I thought we did a great job 5-on-5 and that was the difference.
“It’s been a great series. It’s up to us to stay away from (the penalties) we got ourselves into tonight and stay confident.”
Boston had taken a 3-2 lead in the closely contested series with consecutive overtime wins, but put themselves in a hole with penalties and couldn’t get the equalizer behind Price, despite outshooting Montreal 11-6 and generating sustained pressure in the third period.
Montreal went 2-for-7 with the man advantage, while killing four Boston chances. The Bruins are 0-for-19 in the series.
It was a nervous game for both teams and for referees Kevin Pollock and Chris Lee, with spotty passing and missed opportunities on both sides.
The crowd of 21,273 booed as a Montreal goal at 3:27 was disallowed due to a quick whistle. Scott Gomez’s dump-in was misplayed by Thomas and lay clearly open beside him as Gionta slipped it in the net.
“You’ve just got to settle down, they can’t change the call,” said Gionta. “I thought we did a good job after that.”
Cammalleri was the catalyst for the opening goal as he threw the puck toward the Bruins bench and caught them for too many men on the ice, then had his stick slashed in two by Seidenberg for a two-man advantage.
Cammalleri one-timed a P.K. Subban pass inside the near post from the right circle at 10:07.
The Bruins struck back with the teams each down one man only 48 seconds into the second as Seidenberg came out from behind the net and lifted a shot inside the post.
Montreal got another two-man advantage when Lucic was given a major for boarding and a game misconduct for a hit from behind on Spacek, who turned at the last second and was cut for five stitches over the right eye when his face went against the glass.
Only 16 seconds later, Patrice Bergeron shot the puck over the glass for a delay of game call and Gionta put Montreal ahead when he knocked in a rebound at 5:48.
“I was watching the other guy coming and I didn’t see (Lucic) coming from behind,” said Spacek. “At the last moment I thought he’d hit me and I tried to protect myself a bit.
“I feel OK. No headache or nothing. I was talking to the trainer right away.”
Spacek returned later in the period and the Bruins moved Daniel Paille into Lucic’s spot on the line with David Krejci and Nathan Horton.
Boston’s Brad Marchand wasted a glittering chance when Cammalleri got his stick in the way and he couldn’t find the handle on Zdeno Chara’s pass with half the net open on a late power play as the Bruins pressed for the tie.
And Krejci was alone in front while killing a late penalty only to see his backhander stopped by Price, who won a playoff game at home for the first time since 2008.
The Bruins had pulled out 4-2 and 5-4 wins on their first two visits to Montreal after dropping the first two at home, but took the series lead with a 2-1 double overtime win at home in Game 5. They are looking for their first series win after losing the first two games.
The Canadiens were without defenceman James Wisniewski, who appeared to suffer a back injury, and centre David Desharnais, who sprained his left knee in Game 5. Defenceman Yannick Weber moved in at forward and rearguard Paul Mara also played.
Notes: Cammalleri got his 16th goal and an assist for 28 points in 25 playoff games as a Canadien. … Montreal centre Lars Eller left early in the first after apparently hurting a wrist and returned late in the period. … As expected, Wisniewski took the warmup but didn’t play. Mara played defence and Weber went in for Desharnais, who will miss 4-6 weeks with a sprained left knee. … Boston made no changes.