BOSTON - The Montreal Canadiens have struggled so much this season that even the Boston fans couldn't muster much of a hatred for their Original Six rivals.
So the crowd yelled derogatory cheers about Tim Tebow instead.
"They've got a lot going on right now, and I think their situation is a little bit different," Bruins coach Claude Julien said Thursday night after Boston beat the embattled Canadiens 2-1.
"Right now, I think they've got other things on their minds. I haven't felt the same energy, but yet the results of the game are very similar: When we do beat them, we don't beat them by much, and vice versa. But certainly, it doesn't have the same flare it had maybe a year ago."
The Canadiens, who fired coach Jacques Martin in December, sent forward Michael Cammalleri back to the hotel after the second period on Thursday and announced after the game that he's been traded to Calgary for Rene Bourque.
"Let's be honest: They're having their own difficulties over there," Bruins goalies Tim Thomas said. "That's probably affecting their willingness to get chippy. They probably don't have a really good 'team' feeling down there."
Jordan Caron and Milan Lucic scored, and Thomas stopped 33 shots to give the Bruins their third straight victory over Montreal.
Yannick Weber scored for the Canadiens and Carey Price made 28 saves for Montreal, which fell to 3-8 since Randy Cunneyworth took over as coach.
The Canadiens, who were shut out by St. Louis on Tuesday night, did not score until Weber cut the deficit to 2-0 on a screen shot past Thomas with 7:14 to play.
"I felt like if I saw the puck tonight, there was no way they were going to score," Thomas said. "That's why I was a little bit frustrated, because I didn't think they were going to score."
The Canadiens won the first two matchups against the defending Stanley Cup champions this season, winning home-and-home games at the end of October. But since then, the Bruins have won 25 of 30 games.
This one game lacked the usual intensity of a matchup between the longtime rivals, who played in a seven-game series in the first round of last year's playoffs.
Midway through the third period, the crowd began deriding Tebow, the Denver Broncos quarterback who will face the New England Patriots on Saturday.
But just a few minutes later, P.K. Subban elbowed David Krejci near the benches and Bruins defenceman Andrew Ference quickly came over to intervene. Ference was given four minutes and Subban two, resulting in Montreal's second power play of the game.
The Bruins took the lead on a fluke goal just 83 seconds in, when Johnny Boychuk sent the puck around the boards and it took an odd bounce. Carey had gone behind the goal to play the puck, but it rolled right in front of the crease and Caron, who was recalled from Providence earlier in the day, put it into the empty net.
"It was an unfortunate bounce, but at the same time we have to find a way to rally behind it, bounce back from it," Price said. "Tim played well, but he usually plays well against us. He pretty much stoned us the whole game, especially in the first period."
That's the way it stayed until 3:43 into the third, when Krejci dug the puck out of the boards and sent it behind the net to Nathan Horton. He passed it to Lucic in the slot, with a deflection of Tomas Plekanec's skate that forced the Bruins forward to switch to his backhand before quickly swiping it past Price into the net.
That extended Krejci's point streak to a career high-tying 10 games—the longest point streak in the NHL this season.
Notes: Bruins D Zdeno Chara and F Tyler Seguin will join Thomas and the team's coaching staff at the Jan. 29 All-Star game in Ottawa. ... Caron, a first-round pick in 2009, has skated in 14 games for the Bruins and 12 for the Providence Bruins of the AHL this season. ... Canadiens C Petteri Nokelainen returned to the lineup after missing two straight games. ... Montreal was again without captain Brian Gionta who left Tuesday's game against St. Louis in the third period and underwent bicep surgery on Wednesday. ... Bruins F Marc Savard will purchase a luxury suite for each remaining home game for pediatric patients at Children's Hospital Boston, with a focus on children suffering from the effects of head trauma. Savard was expected to attend the game, but his flight was cancelled due to the weather.
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