Thomas, Chara, and 4th line shine as Bruins beat the Habs

Saku Koivu, Chris Higgins, Alex Tangauy, and Carey Price were all hurt for Montreal, and the Bruins were forced to sit Milan Lucic, Phil Kessel, Marco Sturm, Patrice Bergeron, Manny Fernandez, Andrew Ference, and eventually Aaron Ward due to injury. Once the puck dropped between the Canadiens and Bruins last night at the Garden, it didn’t matter, it was still Bruins-Canadiens, and both teams came to play with intensity.

There was a buzz on the ice from the opening draw, passes were crisp, defenses were tight, and bodies flew in the opening frame, making for an entertaining period without too much offense. Chara set this physical tone early, when Tom Kostopolous went to finish a check on the Bruins’ captain, perhaps a second or two later than he should have. Chara saw the hit coming, set his edge, and tossed Kostopolous to the ice, giving him a condescending look before joining the rush up ice. The physical play continued in the first, when Mark Stuart dropped the gloves with Kyle Chipchura, after Chipchura took exception to a hit by Blake Wheeler. Stuart controlled the bout.

No scoring was seen until 3:24 of the second period, when the Canadiens Andrei Kostitsyn scored on a rebound set up by his brother Sergei. After a decent cycle on the power play by the Canadiens, and a solid penalty kill, Sergei Kostitsyn fired a low angle shot on Thomas, who should have pounced on the rebound, but was unable to corral the puck. Andrei made the Bruins pay by banging home the rebound. bruinshabsSome would call it a weak goal, Thomas should never have given up the second shot.

Chuck Kobasew does the little things, the things that don’t show up on the boxscore. His efforts on the power play lead to a crucial game-tying-goal just five minutes after the Canadiens had taken their 1-0 lead. After Chara touched a pass to Aaron Ward who teed off on a one-timer, Chara went to the net, hoping for either a rebound opportunity or a back-door pass. The shot hit Kobasew, who struggled with a Canadien defender, and nudged the puck to Chara, who made no mistakes, burying the puck in the net at 8:23 of the second.

The defining moment of the game came later in the second with the Canadiens on the power play. With Ward facing the boards, Andrei Kostitsyn came and hit the Bruins blueliner into the boards from behind, causing the official to raise his arm indicating a penalty was coming. Kostitsyn then skated towards the puck, which was in the slot, and Thomas decided to take matters into his own hands, coming out of his crease and putting Kostitsyn flat on his back. “I heard the hit and I saw Wardo down,” said Thomas. “The first thing that went through my mind was [Patrice] Bergeron and Andrew Alberts last year.” Thomas was given a two minute roughing penalty, and Andrei Kostitsyn received a five-minute major for boarding, resulting in a Canadiens 4 on 3, followed by an extended power play for the Bruins after a brief 4 on 4.

Shortly after the Bs went on the power play, Roman Hamrlik sent the Bruins on a 5 on 3 after he dumped Martin St.Pierre on a crosscheck. The Bruins capitalized on their opportunity.chara After David Krejci sent a pass to Dennis Wideman, Wideman tapped the puck to Chara, who was waiting, and ripped a slap shot off Andrei Markov and into the net for his second goal of the game.

The two teams then continued to play very physical games, dumping, and chasing, and hitting. The Bruins fourth line had one of their better games of the season, with Shawn Thornton and Petteri Nokelainen both playing strong defensively and physically.

Tim Thomas played outstanding in the third frame, making timely saves on dangerous shooters such as Alexei Kovalev.

David Krejci finished out the scoring with under two minute to go, finishing a nice pass from Ryder. Blake Wheeler also tallied an assist on the play.

Kudos: David Krejci, Shawn Thornton, Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara, and Petteri Nokelainen

The Bad News: Aaron Ward is hurt again, and will not make the road trip.

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