Canadiens try to deny Bruins a ninth straight win
BRUINS (11-7-0) at CANADIENS (9-8-3)
TV: RDS (HD), NESN (HD), TSN-HABS (HD)
Boston 8-2-0; Montreal 6-3-1
After Boston needed overtime in Game 7 to beat Montreal in the playoffs last season, the Habs own a 2-0 mark against the Bruins this season, with wins both at home and on the road. Four regular-season meetings remain between these Northeast Division rivals.
It's always an exciting matchup when these two Original Six foes get together, but there is even more intrigue surrounding Monday's game when you consider Boston enters on an eight-game winning streak, one they started only after losing back-to-back games to Montreal at the end of October.
It's fair to say this Boston team is a far cry from the one which the Habs made easy work of in a home-and-home sweep on Oct. 27-29. The Bruins are 8-0-0 in November thanks to an offense that is outscoring opponents 41-14 over that stretch. Boston enters the Bell Centre on the heels of a 6-0 thrashing of the New York Islanders Saturday night, the fifth time in seven games Boston has scored six or more. Coach Claude Julien is excited about returning to Montreal with his team much improved.
"I think our guys are starting to get that feeling again of going out there every night and wanting to be a team that's hard to beat," Julien said. "We're going back to Montreal now, and it's more about what we're doing and not who we're playing. That's where our focus has to be during this next game."
While Boston is getting it done with offense, Montreal is relying on outstanding goaltending to keep its season on track. Carey Price
-- who got both wins over Boston back in October -- has been sensational in his last four starts with a 3-0-1 record, a .962 save percentage and two consecutive shutouts. After Saturday's 4-0 shutout win over a New York Rangers team that had won seven in a row, Price and the Habs are in the business of shutting down red-hot offenses.
"He's the backbone of our team, but we did do a good job of getting the puck out of our end," said captain Brian Gionta
, who scored twice against the Rangers.
While second-year phenom Tyler Seguin leads the Bruins in goals (11) and points (21), center Chris Kelly has applied the finishing touch of late. Kelly has 6 points in four games, including 2 goals and 1 assist against the Islanders.
Montreal defenseman Hal Gill
(infected cut) is expected to miss Monday's game, while defenseman Jaroslav Spacek
(upper body) and center Andreas Enqvist (lower body) are both doubtful. Andrei Kostitsyn
is nursing a lower-body injury and has not played since Nov. 5.
Opposite Price, Bruins goalie Tim Thomas enters Monday on a hot streak of his own. With five wins in a row -- including two shutouts -- Thomas boasts the sixth-best goals-against average (1.92) and eighth-best save percentage (.932).
The Bruins' Zdeno Chara will play in Montreal days after authorities there decided not to charge him for a hit on the Habs' Max Pacioretty
during a game in March that caused Pacioretty to miss the rest of the season with a cracked vertebra.
Bruins president Cam Neely called the decision "good news" and said he considered it a closed matter.