The storied rivalry between the Canadiens and the Boston Bruins has been one-sided of late, but last night was a battle befitting two Original Six teams facing off on a Saturday night.
Kaiden Guhle scored at 2:13 of overtime to snap a 10-game losing streak for the Habs against the B’s in a 3-2 win at the Bell Centre. It was the first time Montreal had beaten Boston since before the pandemic in 2019.
It was Montreal’s first multi-goal third period comeback victory in over a year, and Guhle is the second-youngest Habs defenceman to score in overtime, behind only P.K. Subban.
Boston entered the game with only one regulation loss all season, and they showed why early, scoring only 36 seconds into the contest. Pavel Zacha tipped home a point shot by Charlie McAvoy to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead. McAvoy had just returned from a four-game suspension.
Montreal shook off the goal and played well the rest of the period. It was a fast-paced affair, with only 10 faceoffs and 12 shots between the two clubs.
There were no power plays until the second period. Montreal found a way to keep the puck out after giving Boston a 5-on-3.
The tables turned quickly in the third period. After David Pastrnak took a penalty late in the second, Nick Suzuki scored his fourth goal in as many games with the man-advantage to tie it up 1-1. The goal came 24 seconds into the frame. The Habs had the 13th best power play before last night, so things are looking up for special teams.
Only 27 seconds later, Brendan Gallagher gave Montreal their first lead of the night. After knocking the puck down in front, he dove to bat the puck by Jeremy Swayman. Swayman started the evening undefeated in his first six games of the season.
Oskar Steen thought he had tied it back up for the Bruins shortly thereafter, but goalie Sam Montembeault immediately motioned to coach Martin St. Louis he had been interfered with on the play. St. Louis agreed and challenged the call on the ice. Upon review, the goal was called back, and the Canadiens retained their 2-1 lead.
Longtime Habs nemesis Brad Marchand gave the Bell Centre faithful something to chuckle about when he took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, but he got his revenge, using his skates to redirect the puck past Montembeault to square things up at 2-2. It was a power-play goal.
Now the game was really feeling like a true Boston-Montreal tilt. Gallagher and Swayman once again found themselves in close quarters, only this time the netminder lost his helmet and took a few shots at the Habs veteran.
For a seventh time this season, the Canadiens pushed a game to overtime. And so far, its’s working for them. The team now has a 5-1-1 record after regulation thanks to Guhle’s overtime winner. Josh Anderson remains snake-bitten, but he got the ball rolling before Guhle finished it.
The organization celebrated the 1993 Cup winning team the other night, and they, too, had a fair amount of success in overtime. Maybe it’s a 30-year thing.
On the injury front, Rafaël Harvey-Pinard returned to the lineup after missing three games, but Jordan Harris left the game with an upper-body injury and is being evaluated. And whatever may have been ailing Mike Matheson appears to be a thing of the past: he played 27:21 to lead the club in ice-time.
Guhle wasn’t just the overtime hero. According to Hockey Stat Cards, he was a beast all night.
The Liveblog commenters may disagree on the state of the rebuild, the players, the coach, the GM, and the price of beer at the Bell Centre, but there’s one thing that unites them all: a desire to beat the Bruins. Here’s hoping they never go four years without beating them ever again.
3. “We just beat the best team in the league, hands down our best game of the year.” -Ryan Katz
2. “For those who thought Guhle had little to no offensive upside…. 1g, 4a in 10 games. A 41 point pace is not exactly Bobby Orr territory, but it ain’t Tim Berni, either. That would have put him in the top 50 of d-men last season.” -Michael Way
1. “And to think that just TWO short two years ago, we couldn’t win an OT game to save our lives, because “somebody” thought it was a good idea to send out our best defensive pluggers.” -Carin Latzel