Game preview: Canadiens @ Bruins
CANADIENS (39-26-7) @ BRUINS (49-17-5)
After leaving Toronto with a win on Saturday, the Canadiens have another rivalry game on tap on Monday at the TD Garden in Boston as Michel Therrien’s troops prepare to take on the NHL’s hottest team.
Saturday’s game got off to a quick start for the visitors in Toronto as Max Pacioretty and Rene Bourque gave the Habs a 2-0 lead less than halfway through the first period at the ACC. Leafs forwards Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak responded for the home side, successively beating Carey Price to knot the game at two. With a minute to go in the opening frame, captain Brian Gionta helped the Canadiens reclaim the lead heading into the first intermission. After Nazem Kadri tied it back up for the Leafs in the third, Tomas Plekanec came through for Montreal with his fifth game-winning goal of the season. It was a well-disciplined affair on both sides as the two teams combined for just four minor penalties in the evening.
Meanwhile, the Bruins capped off a three-game road trip with a successful stop in Phoenix on Saturday night, winning their 12th-consecutive game with their victory over the Coyotes. Despite trailing 2-1 heading into the third period, Boston rallied back off goals from Jarome Iginla (2) and Shawn Thornton to head back to Beantown with their longest streak of the season still intact.
The Canadiens may be without the services of forward Lars Eller on Monday night. The Danish pivot left Saturday’s game early with a lower body injury. After being sent to Hamilton for conditioning, Michael Bournival was recalled following the game in Toronto and made the trip to Boston with the big club. With the exception of the long term injuries to Adam McQuaid and Dennis Seidenberg, the Bruins’ clinic is otherwise unoccupied at the moment.
Tuukka Rask and Peter Budaj will start between the pipes for their respective teams. Among all NHL netminders who have played more than 50 games this season, Rask is ranked first in save percentage with a .929 efficiency. Budaj owns a 4-2-0 record in his career against Boston, boasting a .911 save percentage and 2.64 goals-against average against the Bruins.
The Bruins are currently sitting atop the Eastern Conference standings and were the first team in the league to clinch a playoff spot. The Canadiens are five points up on the Maple Leafs and are just one point back of Tampa in the hunt for home ice advantage heading into the postseason.
Monday’s game will be the fourth and final meeting between the Habs and Bruins this season. The Canadiens have won two of the three games so far, most recently leaving TD Garden with a 4-1 win on Jan. 30.