2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs – First Round Series Recap
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 1 - Montreal 2, Boston 0 – Canadiens lead series, 1-0
Well, at least in this series, the Boston Bruins can’t blow a three-game lead.
That’s just about the only bit of solace they can take from a miserable opening night of a playoff journey that is already fraught with peril.
Lots of pundits liked the Bruins to win the Prince of Wales Trophy and represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals. With Washington owning a shaky reputation in the postseason, Philadelphia struggling over the past month, and Pittsburgh lacking the services of guys named Crosby and Malkin, Boston moved to the forefront of many experts’ pick lists. The team that blew a 3-0 series lead to the Philadelphia Flyers last spring was expected by many to use its motivation to great effect. It was all supposed to start on Thursday night at TD Garden against the rival that has made life hell for the Bruins through much of the history of North American professional hockey. Instead, the Bs ran into a buzzsaw and tasted let a little more hell against the men of Montreal.
Yes, we’ve seen this before from the Canadiens. Great goaltending, timely scoring and wins in the Stanley Cup Playoffs have come together so many times for Montreal. Different names exist on the backs of jerseys, but the same results emerge. Last year the postseason hero for the Canadiens was goalie Jaroslav Halak; this year, if the Canadians are going to win games in April and beyond, new goalie Carey Price (with Halak in St. Louis watching the playoffs at home) is going to have to be just as good as his former teammate was a year ago between the pipes. Keep in mind that last year Price started only one of the 19 postseason games the Habs played.
Thursday night, Price was right, and Boston’s postseason became oh-so-wrong.
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Once again the Montreal goalie in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Price made the most of his newfound opportunity and recorded his third career playoff shutout. Price saved each of the 31 shots that he faced in the first game of this Eastern Conference quarterfinal matchup in Boston.
Montreal’s quality-skating veteran Brian Gionta was the only goal scorer of the night. He netted the only two goals of Game 1, both of which drove a dagger into the hearts of Bs fans throughout New England. Gionta first scored at the 2:45 minute mark of the first period on an assist from Scott Gomez. Then Gionta ended Boston’s hopes of a victory, on another goal that was assisted from Gomez at the 16:42 of the third period. Gomez, instead of sitting back, attacked the Boston defensemen in their zone. He pressed the issue and prevented the Bruins from ceaselessly attacking Price. That bit of poaching in the Boston zone paid off, as Gomez poke-checked the puck into the open and fed Gionta for the goal that gave Les Habitants an essential cushion. Two Gionta goals were all Montreal – and Price - needed to steal the first game of the series.
To nobody’s surprise, Price was named the first star of the game, while Gionta was the second star and Gomez was the third star. Montreal did own the season series by winning four of the six contests against Boston during the regular season. If the Habs win Game 2, they’ll own a commanding lead in this best-of-seven battle.
By: Matt Zemek
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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