There was a buzz all day long as Montréal and Boston fans alike eagerly anticipated the puck dropping for game one of the Eastern Conference Semi-Final.
Rene Rancourt gave his usual post-anthem antics to pump up the crowd inside TD Garden and before you knew it, we were underway.
The Habs came out hard, strong and fast. They were equalling the Bruins with plays to their opponents bodies, and their speed initially gave Boston trouble.
It was also apparent that both teams had seen some time off as they faltered occasionally with neutral zone turnovers and a bit of sloppy puck handling.
But the story on the night, at least in regards to the actual playing of the game, belonged to PK Subban and Carey Price.
Subban opened the scoring at 11:23 of the opening frame, on the power play, while Matt Bartkowski watched from the box. The Canadiens would take that lead into the dressing room, with the full knowledge that Boston would come out stronger in the second.
Even though the Bruins began to dominate in the second period, it remained scoreless until Rene Bourque took advantage of a neutral ice turnover, and then went 5 hole on Tukka Rask to increase the Canadiens lead to two.
Anyone who plays Boston knows better than to count them out however. In a dominating third period, Boston rallied with three goals and by the end of regulation, it was all tied up.
It took close to the 5 minute mark of the second OT frame before the contest was decided. Ironically, Matt Bartkowski would sit in the box again and suffer a déjà-vu moment as Subban wired a slap shot from the blue line that Rask never saw.
Despite the victory, La Sainte-Flanelle have several adjustments to make for game 2 tomorrow afternoon.
First and foremost, they need to find ways to contain the number of shots they give up. Carey Price stole game one for the Canadiens as he faced 51 shots on goal. You can’t win games giving your opposition that many opportunities. If it hadn’t been for Price’s acrobatics in the blue paint (and some wasted opportunities by the Bruins), it would have been a very different game. Most likely with a different result.
Michel Therrien also used Thomas Vanek far too sparingly last night, as he juggled the winger from line to line.
Where Montréal did show dominance was in the face off circle. Tomas Plekanec was over 46% at the dot, and it was his face off win that generated the quick pass to Subban to seal the deal.
We will most definitely see a different team in black and yellow tomorrow, and the Habs best be prepared for a very physical game.
However, they have at least achieved part of the goal they set out to complete before heading back to Le Centre Bell.
Unfortunately, most of the buzz surrounding the series today has been about post game antics from Boston fans who inundated social media with thousands of racial slurs directed at PK Subban.
Cam Neely, president of the Bruins organization was forced to make a public statement distancing the franchise from the fans that were so blatantly disgusting and racist.
So we await tomorrow’s early start to see what the extended game play and shorter rest time will do as these rivals square off once again in game two.
Puck drops just after 12h30 and can be seen on CBC, RDS, and NBCSN. It can also be heard on TSN690 radio.
*** As the owner and editor of BBBR, I want to take a short moment to say that we neither condone or support such bigoted behaviour and we will continue to ensure that it is never accepted or allowed on our Social Media timelines by our followers ***