Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin (74) is checked into the boards by Boston Bruins left wing Milan Lucic (17) during first period National Hockey League action Monday, November 21, 2011 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
MONTREAL - After using an explosive offence to build up eight-game win streak, the Boston Bruins showed they can win a tight one, too.
Andrew Ference scored the only goal and Tim Thomas made 33 saves for his second straight shutout as the Bruins blanked the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 on Monday night.
It extended Boston’s streak to nine in a row, their best stretch since winning 10 straight from Dec. 12, 2008 to Jan. 1, 2009. They’ve outscored their opponents 43-14 during their current run.
“After the second period, (assistant coach) Doug Houda was saying,‘this is what’s fun,’and I was thinking it was a lot funner when we had a four-goal lead going into the third period,”Thomas said with a laugh.
“You’ve got to learn to win a whole bunch of different ways over the years. That’s one of the things we did last year and it’s good to build that this year, too.”
Boston (12-7-0) hasn’t lost since Oct. 29, when they fell 4-2 to the Habs in Montreal.
Carey Price stopped 18 shots for the Canadiens (9-9-3).
“I thought it was a good game back and forth,”said Habs captain Brian Gionta.“Both goaltenders played well and we had our fair share of opportunities. It’s a tough one to lose because it was back and forth.”
Ference got the Bruins on the board at 15:41 of the first when he lifted his second of the season from the faceoff circle over Price’s left shoulder on a delayed penalty against the Canadiens. It snapped a shutout streak of 148:11 for the Canadiens netminder.
Languishing at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings three weeks ago, the Bruins’hot streak has propelled them to the top of the Northeast Division and third in the conference after Monday’s tilt.
“I think we’re playing with a lot more desperation and energy,”Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. "We were maybe not playing as desperate as we should have, especially early on.
"When we started playing with that energy and physical presence–things that we do best and are known for–we got our game back.”
The Canadiens had their chances, including a double-minor to ex-Habs winger Benoit Pouliot late in the second period, but couldn’t snap Thomas’shutout bid.
“It boils down to we make one mistake and one missed assignment on their goal and that’s the difference in the game,”Gionta said.“I thought we played fairly well; there were times we carried the play but we just couldn’t find a way to solve the goalie.”
It’s just the second time Montreal has been held off the scoresheet this season. They were also blanked on opening night in Toronto.
After two periods that saw the teams combine for 31 shots total, action picked up in the final frame as the Habs pushed for the equalizer.
Parked in his comfort zone in the faceoff circle, Michael Cammalleri looked to have an open net at 5:37 of the third but Thomas got over to deny him with a glove save.
Nearly a minute and a half later, Erik Cole ripped a shot on Thomas who made the initial save and pounced on the rebound with Max Pacioretty looming.
Price kept it a one-goal game just past the midway mark of the third when he denied Milan Lucic alone in the slot.
It marked the second straight game that Montreal has kept the shots on goal against below 20–this despite a young and inexperienced group on defence.
“I think it’s a team effort. When you don’t have the puck you play five men and I think we’ve done a good job of coming back and helping our D,”said Canadiens head coach Jacques Martin.
Notes: The game was an unusually tame affair with just four penalties total called.…Montreal has now killed 32 consecutive penalties.…The Canadiens were without defencemen Hal Gill (infection), Jaroslav Spacek (upper body) and Andrei Markov (knee) and winger Andrei Kostitsyn (lower body).…The Bruins scratched defenceman Steve Kampfer and winger Jordan Caron.…Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban and Bruins defenceman Adam McQuaid both played in their 100thcareer NHL games.