Canadiens’ Sergei Kostitsyn scores a first period goal against Bruins goalie Tim Thomas Thursday night in Montreal. Pierre Obendrauf, The Gazette
Links updated at 11:30 p.m.
So much for a lack of playoff experience.
The Canadiens showed no signs of nerves during the opening game of their first-round playoff series against the Boston Bruins on Thursday night. With at least 10 players making their NHL postseason debut, a lot of ink was spilled in recent days about the lack of playoff experience throughout the Canadiens’ roster.
But at the end of the day, just as it was throughout the regular season, the youngsters came through when it mattered most, led by the Kostitsyn brothers, in a 4-1 win to grab a 1-0 lead in the series.
The Canadiens have won all nine games between the teams this season and 12 straight going back to last season.
With the crowd still standing and cheering the national anthems, Sergei Kostitsyn opened the scoring 34 seconds into the game when he pounced on a rebound from a Patrice Brisebois shot, sending the raucous crowd into a euphoric scream.
Only 90 seconds later, Sergei’s older brother, Andrei Kostitsyn scored on a seeing-eye pass from Tomas Plekanec to make it 2-0 2:02 into the game.
The Kostitsyn brothers were making their playoff debut and they showed little signs of nerves with their play early on and Sergei showed he wasn’t going to be afraid to play the physical game he has been know for when he laid out a Bruin with a thundering hit in the second period.
The Bruins got one back when Shane Hnidy got one past Carey Price 8:34 into the period, the first playoff goal given up by the Habs rookie goaltender. But Price settled down after that and had a relatively easy night, stopping 17 of 18 shots in a game in which he collected his first NHL playoff win and used his new pads for the first time in game action.
The Canadien with the most playoff experience at 111 games, Bryan Smolinski, gave his team a 3-1 lead in the second period when he collected a rebound infront of Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas and found an opening to his left. Tom Kostopoulos and Mike Komisarek, making a return from a hip injury, collected assists on the goal. For Komisarek, it was his first playoff point in 14 games. Kostopoulos’s assist was his first point in his first playoff game.
But Kostopoulos wasn’t satisfied with an assist. He scored his first postseason goal in the third period on a nice pass from behind the net from Maxim Lapierre.
Roman Hamrlik brought the crowd to its feet in the middle frame when he absolutely wallpapered Milan Lucic behind Price’s net. Leading up to the series, much of the talk was about how physical the Bruins were, but it was the Canadiens that landed more hits during the game, making a statement that they weren’t going to be pushed around.
Thomas continued to struggle against the Canadiens, stopping only 27 of 31 shots and all four goals were scored between his legs.
The Bruins went 0-for-3 on the power play, while the Canadiens went 0-for-6.