Montreal's Max Pacioretty (67) celebrates a second-period goal with his teammates during Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Bruins at the TD Garden. The Canadiens won, 3-1, to erase a 3-2 series deficit and eliminate Boston from the playoffs.
This was supposed to be another banner year in Boston for a Bruins team that weathered every storm during the regular season, be it injuries or the inconvenience of the Olympic break.
Instead, it ended with another bitter defeat Wednesday, this time at the hands of their most bitter rival, the third consecutive season in which the Bruins have failed to win the Stanley Cup despite finishing at, or near, the top of the league.
Carey Price stopped 29 shots and three different players scored goals as the Montreal Canadiens beat the No. 1 seed Bruins, 3-1, at the TD Garden in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, erasing a 3-2 series deficit and advancing to the conference finals, where they’ll face the surging New York Rangers.
Boston finished with 117 points this year, more than any team in the NHL and 17 more than the third-place Canadiens, while winning its division for the second time in three years, but never found its rhythm in Wednesday’s do-or-die Game 7.
With their season on the line, the Bruins got off to a horrendous start, committing turnover after turnover in the opening period and allowing an early goal to Dale Weise at the 2:18 mark following a defensive breakdown in front of the net, a reoccurring theme that began early in the Bruins’ Game 6 loss in Montreal on Monday.
Another breakdown in the Bruins’ zone, this time stemming from an inability to clear out the puck, led to Max Pacioretty’s goal at 10:22 of the second period, giving Montreal a 2-0 lead.
Boston finally got a break later in the period when Jerome Iginla scored a power-play goal at 17:58, and the momentum seemed to carry over into the third when the Bruins opened the final period by killing off the remaining 1:15 of a David Krejci penalty. Increased pressure by the Bruins led to more scoring chances, but Price stood his ground. Even when he didn’t, the Bruins couldn’t capitalize; Iginla had what appeared to be a clear look at the open net on a scrum four minutes into the third, but his backhand attempt hit the outside of the post, preserving Montreal’s 2-1 lead.
The Canadiens eventually iced it on Daniel Briere’s power-play goal with 2:53 remaining on a shot that redirected off Zdeno Chara’s skate. Tuukka Rask finished with 15 saves for Boston.
Since winning their first Stanley Cup in 39 years in 2011, the Bruins’ last three seasons have ended in heartbreaking fashion. Their title defense the following year ended abruptly with a 2-1 overtime loss at home to Washington in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals while last year’s Stanley Cup run ended in dramatic fashion in the Finals when Chicago scored twice in the final 76 seconds of Game 6 at the Garden to steal a 3-2 win and clinch its second title in four years. The year before their title run in 2011, the Bruins flushed a 3-0 series lead against Philadelphia in the quarterfinals and coughed up a 3-0 lead at home in Game 7 in a 4-3 loss, one of the worst playoff collapses in NHL history.
Game 7s have been a common occurrence for the Bruins in recent years. This was the seventh consecutive postseason in which Boston played at least one Game 7 and the ninth time in franchise history it has played Montreal in a Game 7. The Bruins are now 3-6 in those games against the Canadiens, including a Game 7 loss at home in 2004 in which they blew a 3-1 series lead and a dreadful 5-0 loss at Montreal in 2008. The Bruins have now lost three Game 7s at home in the last five years and have been eliminated from the playoffs at home in each of the last three seasons.
Support WBOB Sports