Six different scorers contributed, including rookie Mikhail Grabovski with his first career goal, as the Canadiens cooled off the Boston Bruins 6-1 on Monday night. “That’s fun – it gets everybody into the game,” coach Guy Carbonneau said. “We always talk about the top two lines who are there to score and play on the power play, but the third and fourth lines like to show what they can do, too.
“Usually, people don’t notice the little things they do to help win games.”
Montreal (4-2-2) won a second game in a row at home and stopped a four-game winning streak by Boston (5-3-0). It was the Canadiens’ widest margin of victory since they beat Philadelphia 5-0 on Feb. 5, 2006.
Patrice Brisebois and Steve Begin each had his first goal the season, while Chris Higgins and Andrei Markov added their third and Alex Kovalev scored his fourth for Montreal.
The Canadiens had one goal from each forward line, with a pair of defencemen – Markov and Brisebois – scoring on power plays.
“Speed was the key word tonight – we played a great 60 minutes,” said Begin.
Dennis Wideman spoiled Cristobal Huet’s shutout bid with his first of the campaign on a third-period power play for Boston.
The Bruins outshot Montreal 32-20, but defenceman Andrew Ference said scoring chances were about equal as the Canadiens outskated their opponents.
“We took some quality shots from the outside, some good first shots, but we didn’t get to the rebounds and we didn’t get in Huet’s face,” he said.
“When you lose, you want to lose swinging hard. You don’t want to roll over. I don’t think we handed it to them, but we didn’t give them a bruiser game, either.”
It was a rough game for Boston goalie Manny Fernandez. The Montreal native seemed to have righted a shaky start to the season with a shutout win over the New York Rangers on Saturday, but he was weak in Montreal.
First-liner Higgins got it started 12:14 into the game when he knocked in the rebound of a Mike Komisarek wrist shot.
Second-liner Tomas Plekanec beat Marc Savard on a face-off and got the puck back to Kovalev for a low shot that beat Fernandez at 6:28 of the middle frame.
Fourth-liner Begin completed a two-on-one with Tom Kostopoulos at 17:48.
Then Brisebois moved in from the point to one-time in a Plekanec pass on a power play 1:45 into the third period.
Wideman’s low shot from the high slot beat Huet at 6:61, but another two-on-one saw third-liner Grabovski fire Bryan Smolinski’s pass into an open side at 9:34.
Markov was at a bad angle but still lifted a high shot over Fernandez on a power play at 14:39.
Grabovski was given both the puck from his goal and the game puck from Smolinski and captain Saku Koivu after the game. The 23-year-old was especially pleased that his parents were watching the contest on TV back in Belarus.
Grabovski struggled while playing at centre earlier this month, but seems to have found a home on left wing with Smolinski and Mathieu Dandenault.
“He’s great on the wing,” said Carbonneau. “He can use his speed and he doesn’t have to worry about coming back in his zone and spending a lot of time defending.”
Carbonneau gave credit to a strong forecheck for the scoring spree.
“The difference from last year is that we’re stronger on the puck in the offensive zone,” he said. “We make the defencemen work and, when they’re tired, they make mistakes.”
The Bruins begin a three-game homestand Thursday night against Chicago, while Montreal next plays road games Friday in Carolina and Saturday in Pittsburgh.
Notes – Smolinski became the 220th NHL player to play 1,000 career games. Kovalev will play his 1,000th Friday night in Carolina. . . Andrei Kostitsyn was a healthy scratch for a second straight game along with Josh Gorges, while Garth Murray is out with a broken ankle. . . Brandon Bochenski, Bobby Allen and Jeremy Reich didn’t play for Boston. . . Montreal boxer Lucian Bute was saluted before the game for winning the IBF super-middleweight title.