Montreal, Price blank Bruins; on to Game 7
MONTREAL — The longest-running playoff rivalry in North American pro sports will add another notable chapter.
The Montreal Canadiens extended their Atlantic Division final with Boston to a decisive seventh game by defeating the Bruins 4-0 Monday night at Bell Centre.
Game 7 will be played Wednesday night in Boston.
Canadiens goalie Carey Price made 26 saves for his fourth career playoff shutout and first this spring.
Winger Thomas Vanek scored twice for Montreal, while center Lars Eller and winger Max Pacioretty added one goal apiece. Vanek’s second was into an empty-netter as Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask was headed to the bench for an extra attacker with 3:56 to play.
This is the 34th time the Bruins and Canadiens have met in postseason play, a tradition that is unmatched by any teams in any league on the continent.
Trailing by a goal, the Bruins put intense pressure on the Canadiens for over a minute near the midway mark of the second period, but whether it was a save by Price or their own inability to hit the target, they couldn’t come up with the equalizer.
An even-strength goal by Pacioretty and a power-play marker by Vanek 2:15 apart late in the period put Montreal in firm control.
Pacioretty’s goal, just his second of the post-season, came off a partial breakaway. After a clearing pass by defenseman Nathan Beaulieu deflected off the glove of Bruins winger Loui Eriksson in the neutral zone, Pacioretty beat Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara to the bouncing puck and swatted it between Rask’s pads at 15:24.
Vanek scored his fourth of the playoffs off a scramble with Bruins center Gregory Campbell in the box at 17:39.
The Bruins appeared to be starting a comeback with nine minutes left in the third, but video replay showed that Canadiens center David Desharnais managed to knock the puck off the line with the butt end of his stick as he dived back to help Price deal with a scramble.
Eller opened the scoring on the Canadiens’ second shot of the game, at 2:11 of the opening period, after Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller fumbled a pass around the boards behind his net. The puck squirted out front just beyond the reach of a lunging Rask, and Eller backhanded it in the open cage for his fourth of the postseason.
Rask (24 saves) kept the deficit to one when he dived back in his net and put his stick on the line to rob Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher in the eighth minute. The Bruins’ best chance of the opening period saw Eriksson whip a shot off the crossbar in the ninth minute after he took a pass from center Carl Soderberg.
NOTES: Canadiens LW Max Pacioretty, the team’s leading scorer during the regular season with 39 goals, had just one goal in 13 career playoff games before scoring in the third period Monday. He was shut out in his postseason debut, a five-game series loss to the Ottawa Senators a year ago. ... The Bruins are still waiting for C David Krejci’s first playoff goal of the spring. Krejci, who has three assists in 11 games, led all NHL point producers two of the last three postseasons. ... Bruins 36-year-old LW Shawn Thornton, the team’s enforcer, played in his 100th playoff game. ... Canadiens D Nathan Beaulieu played his first NHL playoff game, taking the roster spot of D Douglas Murray. Beaulieu, the team’s first-round pick in 2011, recorded an assist and a plus-2 rating. ... Montreal C Daniel Briere was back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch in Game 5. He replaced LW Travis Moen.