MONTREAL — The Boston Bruins’ Game 3 magic disappeared Tuesday night at the Bell Centre.
Winners the last 12 times they played a Game 3 in the playoffs and 14-1 in similar situations over the past four years, the Bruins fell behind early and this time had no comeback in them, ultimately falling 4-2 to the Montreal Canadiens.
The victory gives the Canadiens a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Atlantic Division final, with Game 4 scheduled for Thursday in Montreal.
Defenseman P.K. Subban, winger Dale Weise and centers Lars Eller and Tomas Plekanec each had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens. Subban’s two points give him 11 in seven post-season games.
The Bruins’ goals were scored by center Patrice Bergeron and winger Milan Lucic, the latter coming with 2:16 left in regulation time and Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask on the bench for an extra attacker.
Eller’s goal came into an empty net with 2.8 seconds left.
Montreal goalie Carey Price was solid, stopping 26 of 28 shots. Rask knocked aside 22 shots.
The bitter division rivals played it straight on this night, as each team took just one minor penalty.
Trailing by three with time winding down in the second, Bergeron gave the Bruins life by deflecting a point shot from defenseman Tory Krug over Price’s catching mitt. It was his third of the playoffs.
The Bruins had some glorious chances earlier in the period, but Price was sharp. It was shortly after a big save on Krug that Montreal center Daniel Briere sprung winger Dale Weise on a breakaway that the latter converted for his second goal of the playoffs.
While the Bruins had the edge in territorial play through 40 minutes, it was not reflected in the shots count which saw Montreal up 22-21. Price did have a lot of help, however, as his teammates were credited with 20 blocked shots through the first two periods while Boston had 13.
Energized by their famously loud fans, the Canadiens jumped into a 2-0 lead in the first period.
Plekanec notched his third of the playoffs at the 10:47 mark when he was presented a wide open side after a smart slap-pass from winger Thomas Vanek. Subban also drew an assist on the goal by taking the puck off the side boards and dropping it for Vanek.
Less than two minutes later, Subban took the only penalty of the period when he went high on Bruins winger Reilly Smith while attempting a big hit just outside the Montreal blue line. But the Canadiens killed it off, and as soon as Subban stepped out of the box, he was sent in on a breakaway by Eller. Subban made no mistake with the opportunity, deking to his forehand and firing the puck low into the net.
Notes: The Canadiens added seven inches and 46 pounds to their blue line by replacing D Francis Bouillion with D Douglas Murray. The impact of the move was felt during the lone penalty of the first period, when Murray flattened Bruins C Patrice Bergeron at the Montreal blue line with the Canadiens shorthanded. ... In the only other Montreal change, LW Travis Moen replaced LW Brandon Prust. ... Canadiens RW Rene Bourque, the team’s leading scorer through six playoff games with four goals, battled a case of the flu to remain in the lineup. ... Bruins C Patrice Bergeron extended his point streak to seven games with his second period goal. He scored three times and assisted on six during that span. ... Bruins D Zdeno Chara headed to the dressing room after taking a whack on the hand during his first shift. He returned after six minutes or so of clock time and wound up playing just 6:06 of the opening period, which is well below average for him. ... Montreal had to do without LW Thomas Vanek for the last five minutes of the third period. He was injured when Canadiens D P.K. Subban collided with him while also taking out Bruins RW Reilly Smith. Vanek returned to start the second. ... Bruins G Tuukka Rask was playing his first game as a father, after he and his girlfriend celebrated the birth of their daughter on the weekend.