The Boston Bruins just keep rolling along.
The Canadiens, on the other hand, are showing how much more work is needed on their rebuild.
Juraj Slafkovsky and Johnathan Kovacevic scored for the Canadiens — the second goal of the season for both. It was Slafkovsky’s first goal in seven games, while Kovacevic scored in a second straight game.
The Bruins outshot the Canadiens 44-22 and went 2-for-5 on the power play, while the Canadiens were 0-for-2. Canadiens goalie Jake Allen saw his record fall to 3-4-1 with a 3.54 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage.
“The Bruins were good tonight,” Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis said on RDS after the game. “It’s not that we didn’t work, but we didn’t work well. I found that we were soft a bit, too.”
St. Louis added the Canadiens gave the Bruins too much respect when it came to one-on-one battles, bodychecks and battles for the puck.
After 16 games, the Bruins have the same number of points they did at this point last season when they were 14-2-0 en route to finishing with a 65-12-5 record for an NHL-record 135 points. Boston is doing it this season without former captain Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, two veteran centres who retired after the Bruins were upset by the Florida Panthers in the first round of last season’s playoffs.
The Bruins haven’t missed a beat without them.
For the second straight game, the Canadiens’ dads were in attendance in Boston on a father’s trip, after watching their sons lose 6-5 to the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday at the Bell Centre. Last season, when the Canadiens had a mother’s trip, they also lost both games — 9-2 to the Capitals in Washington and 6-3 to the Predators in Nashville.
The Canadiens didn’t give their fathers much to cheer about Saturday night as they fell behind 2-0 in the first period, when they were outshot 18-8. McAvoy opened the scoring at 7:11 on a five-on-three power play after Jesse Ylönen was penalized for hooking at 6:11 and Kovacevic was sent off for tripping 13 seconds later.
Zacha made it 3-0 for the Bruins at 5:18 of the second period before Slafkovsky got the Canadiens on the board with a nice snapshot on a setup from behind the net by Nick Suzuki at 13:04. Frederic put the Bruins up 4-1 with his second of the game at 15:30 of the second period, 12 seconds after a Canadiens power play had ended.
After splitting them up for the previous five games, St. Louis started the game with Suzuki and Cole Caufield back together on the No. 1 line with Alex Newhook.
Caufield was held pointless with three shots and he has only one goal in the last 11 games. Only one of Caufield’s five goals this season has come at five-on-five. He has one power-play goal and three OT goals. In the first season of his eight-year, US$62.8-million contract with a salary-cap hit of US$7.85 million, Caufield is on pace to finish the season with 23 goals after scoring 26 in 46 games last season before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury that required surgery.
The Canadiens took six minor penalties against the Bruins and lead the NHL in that category with 88 this season — an average of 4.89 per game.
“I know that preparation, effort-wise, I know I can look every guy in the eye and know that they were ready to go to war tonight,” Kovacevic, who took three minor penalties, told RDS after the game. “I’ll have to rewatch, but I still think we were hitting, we were blocking shots. But some execution was off early and then the emotions kind of got the better of us and it snowballed. We got to learn how to put the brakes on that snowball and climb uphill a little bit until we find our A game again.”
Things won’t get any easier for the Canadiens with their next four games also on the road, including a three-game California trip that starts Wednesday against the Ducks in Anaheim (10 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).
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