Game 8: Canadiens crush Bruins 6-1 in dominant performance

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Canadiens’ Steve Bégin scores his first goal of the season, directing a pass from Tom Kostopoulos past Boston goalie Manny Fernandez.
Phillip MacCallum, Getty Images

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0huetsaves.gifCanadiens goalie Cristobal Huet makes a sensational, rebound pad save on Bruins’ Glen Murray off a 2-on-1, first-period break.
Phillip MacCallum, Getty Images

It should be a very happy week around the Bell Centre.

The Canadiens can, and should, savour their performance of tonight, a thoroughly dominant 6-1 victory over the Boston Bruins, a team that arrived in Montreal with a 5-2-0 record and two points up on their Northeast Division rivals.

They left well beaten, and tied in the standings. The Canadiens, meanwhile, enjoyed their second consecutive victory on home ice after having dropped three straight games.

The Canadiens (4-2-2) now have a few days to prepare for their first back-to-back games of this young season, facing the Hurricanes in Carolina on Friday and the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Saturday. They’ll be back on Bell Centre ice next Tuesday against Atlanta.

Montreal was outshot 32-20, but the Canadiens turned Boston goalie Manny Fernandez into a screen door and, as usual, had an excellent performance by Cristobal Huet in their own net.

Defenceman Patrice Brisebois put the Habs up 4-0 at 1:45 of the third period, pinching in from the blueline with Bruins captain Zdeno Chara in the penalty box. Brisebois buried a pass from centreman Tomas Plekanec behind Fernandez to put the game virtually out of reach.

Boston’s Dennis Wideman put the Bruins on the board at 6:41 with a screened, power play goal that proved to be the single puck to get past Huet.

But on a delayed penalty, the Canadiens got that one back at 9:34, Mikhail Grabovski converting a perfect pass after a faked shot from Bryan Smolinski on a 2-on-1. It was Grabovski’s first goal in the NHL, and gave Smolinski an assist in the 1,000th game of his NHL career.

Defenceman Andrei Markov made it 6-1 on the power play at 12:39, faking a slapshot, going around a sprawling Bruins defender then whipping a shot high over the porous Fernandez.

Fourteen different Canadiens had put their names on the scoresheet.

Christopher Higgins began the assault on this night when he bagged his third of the season at 12:14 of the first period, slicing a rebound of a Mike Komisarek shot past past Fernandez. Captain Saku Koivu had cleanly drawn the puck back to his defenceman, beating Boston’s Marc Savard on the faceoff.

Komisarek had a fine game, blocking a game-high five shots and registering four hits. He rendered Chara virtually invisible or earned him a seat in the penalty box. Fellow Habs defenceman Francis Bouillon was a game-high +3.

Boston outshot Montreal 9-8 through the first 20 minutes, and Huet had to be at his best three minutes before Higgins’s goal after a Brisebois giveaway deep in Boston ice yielded a 2-on-1 break. Huet turned away the first shot by Glen Metropolit, then more impressively the point-blank-range rebound by Glen Murray.

The first period goal evidently so impressed Plekanec and Alex Kovalev, the second-liners almost cloned it at 6:28 of the second. Plekanec crisply won a faceoff – again, beating Savard on the draw – to Kovalev, who one-timed it past a surprised Fernandez for his team-leading fourth goal of the season to give the Canadiens a 2-0 lead.

And hugely popular fourth-line winger Steve Bégin nearly brought the house down at 17:48 of the second, converting a pretty, patient pass from linemate Tom Kostopoulos on a 2-on-1, jamming the puck past Fernandez on the Bruins goalie’s doorstep for his first goal of the season.

Boston outshot Montreal 13-6 in the second for a 22-14 edge after two periods.

THREE STARS: 1. Huet 2. Plekanec 3. Komisarek

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Alex Kovalev, who scored his team-high fourth goal of the season, congratulates goalie Cristobal Huet at game’s end.
Phillip MacCallum, Getty Images

PREGAME NOTES:

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Smolinski’s 1,000th game
Tonight will be Bryan Smolinski’s 1,000th regular-season game in the NHL. He will become the second Canadiens player to reach that milestone this season, after Roman Hamrlik, whose first game as a Canadiens, on opening day, Oct. 3 in Carolina, was also his career 1,000th. Jean Béliveau, Henri Richard, Frank Mahovlich, Bob Gainey, Claude Provost, Stéphane Quintal and Larry Robinson have also played their 1,000th in a Canadiens uniform. For his part, Alex Kovalev is two games shy of his 1,000th in the NHL.

Koivu closing on Carbonneau
Canadiens captain Saku Koivu needs only six points to reach the 17th position for most career points with the Canadiens and catch head coach Guy Carbonneau. Koivu has amassed 541 points (161-380) in 657 games. Carbonneau collected 221 goals and 326 assists (547 points) in 912 games with the Canadiens.

First things first
During the Oct. 20 game against the Sabres, two players earned a very first point with the Canadiens. First, Mikhail Grabovski assisted on Bryan Smolinski’s first goal of the year. Then, rookie centreman Kyle Chipchura tallied his first NHL goal. Finally, defenceman Roman Hamrlik put one past Ryan Miller to register a first goal with the Canadiens.


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