The Boston Bruins delivered a vital blow in what has been a heavyweight battle with the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.
Boston defeated Montreal in Game 5 at TD Garden, 4-2. Behind a strong defensive effort, superior goaltending and a strong offensive attack, the Bruins earned a three-games-to-two lead in their second-round playoff series.
Boston’s powerplay had been rendered useless by an exceptional Montreal penalty kill prior to Game 5. They had a breakout performance, propelling the Bruins to a series lead ahead of Monday’s Game 6 clash at the Bell Centre.
Soderberg scored the opening goal of the contest in the first period. He earned his first career playoff goal on a nifty feed from Eriksson after winning an attacking zone draw. The Swedish winger also tallied a pair of assists.
The Bruins then added two powerplay goals in the second frame. Both Jarome Iginla and Reilly Smith notched their fourth goal of the playoffs, giving way to a 3-0 Bruins lead. Their poweplay had been 0-10 up until then.
In the third, Eriksson banged home his second goal of the playoffs, burying a Fraser rebound past Carey Price.
In a last ditch effort, the Canadiens pulled Price, trailing by three goals. P.K. Subban rifled a point shot past Rask with the exta attacker on, making it 4-2. It was all the Canadiens could manage to muster.
For the first time in the 2014 playoffs the Candiens found themselves trailing after two periods. Boston’s lockdown defensive play and relentless physicality held Montreal in check for the most part.
Both of Montreal’s goals came via the powerplay. Though for the majority of the tilt it appeared as if the Candiens were embellishing after being hit in order to gain favorable calls. And hit is what the Bruins did. They were sure to finish checks while punishing the Canadiens along the boards. Boston racked up 39 hits to Montreal’s 29.
Rask successfully followed up his shutout in Game 4, steering aside 29 of the 31 shots directed on him.
The win was by far Boston’s most complete performance of the series. They established a forecheck, kept pucks in deep, mounted pressure and cheked tightly on the defensive end.
Boston is rapidly building momentum and they appear to be gaining confidence as this series rolls along. They’ll have an opportunity to eliminate the hated Canadiens on Monday.