MONTREAL – The Boston Bruins needed a little bit of luck to break out of one of the worst stretches in the team’s long and storied history.
Tuukka Rask made 36 saves for his third shutout of the season as the Bruins snapped a 10-game winless streak with a 3-0 victory Sunday afternoon over the Montreal Canadiens.
The Bruins had two of their goals deflected in by the Canadiens and the third came on a lucky bounce with less than five seconds to play in the first period.
“With what we’ve been going through the last little while, we were really hoping for a break to come our way,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “It’s true, we had some luck tonight and that’s what got us the win our whole team was looking for. After 10 losses, it was something we were hoping to see soon.”
Marco Sturm scored twice and Adam McQuaid added another for the Bruins (23-23-11), who were 0-6-4 in their previous 10 games, the team’s longest winless streak in 13 years.
The Bruins went 11 games without a win from Dec. 19, 1963 to Jan 11, 1964, but thanks to Rask and some good bounces the Bruins don’t have to worry about matching that mark.
“It’s always nice to have a shutout, but first and foremost it’s nice to have a win,” Rask said. “They had some chances, but overall I think we kept them to the outside and I saw pretty much every puck. That always helps.”
Jaroslav Halak made 24 saves for the Canadiens (28-26-6), who saw their modest three-game win streak come to an end.
It was the sixth time this season the Canadiens have been shut out, but only the second time when Halak was in goal.
For the Bruins, their three goals snapped a string of nine straight games where they scored two or fewer, notching only 11 goals total over that span. It was their longest such stretch since 1964.
“We’re relieved, but we’ve been playing well the last four or five games, we just haven’t been getting the results,” said Bruins centre Patrice Bergeron, who had two assists. “It was nice to finally get the results.”
The Canadiens began the first by taking the play to the Bruins but fell into a familiar pattern by the second half of the period, allowing Boston to control the play and eventually grab a 2-0 lead with two late goals.
“That shouldn’t have happened,” Habs coach Jacques Martin said. “If you look at the standings, you’re playing a team you’re fighting for a playoff spot and we had a chance to hurt them. What’s disappointing is the way we came out, we lost the game in the first period. If we’d played in the first the way we played in the second and third, we still might have lost the game but at least we would have given it our best. Certain individuals needed to give us more.”
McQuaid’s point shot at 17:32 was tipped in front by Canadiens winger Ryan White and just caught the inside of the post to the right of Halak before going in.
It was the first NHL goal for the native of Charlottetown in his 12th career game.
“Obviously to score tonight to help us get back on the winning track, it feels pretty good to contribute,” McQuaid said.
Another Bruins point shot resulted in a goal with only 3.2 seconds left in the first, as Zdeno Chara’s shot bounced off Bergeron in front and right to Sturn on the other side of the net. Sturm had an open net to shoot at to put Boston ahead 2-0.
It was the third straight game the Bruins led 2-0, with the previous two ending in 3-2 shootout losses to Montreal and Vancouver.
The way the Bruins played in the second period, it looked like they were headed for the same fate, but Rask stood tall to keep Montreal off the board.
“That second period was difficult for us because of all the turnovers we were making in the neutral zone, those turnovers gave the Canadiens a lot of scoring chances,” Julien said. “(Rask) was exceptional. When we needed a big save he came up with them.”
The Canadiens outshot Boston 15-3 over the middle frame. Tomas Plekanec had three golden opportunities to cut Montreal’s deficit in half, including a breakaway just after the 11-minute mark, but was foiled by Rask each time.
“He probably thought he would just make a quick move there,” Rask said of his save on the breakaway. “I wasn’t too deep in my net and I just stood my ground.”
Rask was brilliant again in the third, stopping Ben Maxwell on a quality chance six minutes in and Scott Gomez from in tight just before the midway point of the period.
The Bruins got another fortuitous bounce right after that to go ahead 3-0, as Sturm’s wrister from the high slot hit Habs defenceman Josh Gorges’ stick before beating Halak for his 18th goal of the season at 9:49 of the third.
Notes: Bruins C David Krejci played three shifts in the first period before retiring to the locker room. He did not return with an undisclosed injury…canadiens winger Mathieu Darche played his 10th NHL game of the season, meaning he will now have to clear waivers to be sent down to Hamilton of the AHL…Following Saturday’s win over Pittsburgh, this was the third straight year the Habs split their annual Super Bowl weekend matinee doubleheader…Habs winger Matt D’Agostini was a healthy scratch, while injured forwards Benoit Pouliot and Marc-Andre Bergeron each missed their second game…Bruins D Andrew Ference returned to the lineup after missing 14 games with a groin injury…The two teams combined for only one power play, with the Canadiens going 0-for-1. It was the first time this season Boston did not get a single power play and it was also the first time the Canadiens did not have to kill one off.