Goaltender Tim Thomas made 33 saves, while Jordan Caron and Milan Lucic scored goals to lead the reigning Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins over the floundering Montreal Canadiens, 2-1, at TD Garden Thursday night.
The Bruins were the recipient of an unfortunate bounce off the boards for Carey Price. The Habs' netminder went behind the cage to stop a wraparound by defenseman Johnny Boychuk, but the puck kicked out in front to Caron, who had a wide open net staring at him. The winger gladly deposited his second goal of the year just 1:23 into the game.
Lucic provided what proved to be a much-needed insurance marker early in the third period, sending a backhander from the slot past Price 3:43 into the stanza for his 15th of the season and a 2-0 Boston lead.
After a skirmish created by a high hit by defenseman P.K. Subban on David Krejci and a resultant Montreal power play, Yannick Weber was able to ruin Thomas' shutout bid for the Canadiens' only goal with 7:14 remaining in regulation.
Thomas improved his record to 18-7-0, while Price dropped to 15-16-7.
These are two teams heading in very different directions.
Boston continues their ascent to the top of the NHL standings, posting a stellar 11-2 record over the last 13 contests. Following a 3-7-0 October start in which many would call a 'Stanley Cup hangover', the Bruins are a sizzling 25-4-1 in their last 30 outings.
Montreal, conversely, is in a complete free fall in the Eastern Conference, having lost nine of their last 12 games. The Habs currently sit in the 12th spot, seven points out of the eighth and final playoff spot, but just three points ahead of the East's cellar-dwelling New York Islanders.
The result on the ice wasn't the biggest story of the night coming out of Boston Thursday, and you never know just what will happen when these two original six teams with such a storied history of a bitter rivalry get together.
Following the first period of this clash, Montreal traded Mike Cammalleri, along with the rights to goalie Karri Ramo, and a fifth round draft pick in 2012 to the Calgary Flames for Rene Bourque, Patrick Holland, and a second round draft pick in 2013, just a day after the winger made what many felt were disparaging remarks about the club.
"We prepare for our games like losers," Cammalleri said Wednesday. "We play like losers. So it's no wonder why we lose."
GM Pierre Gauthier insisted the trade had nothing to do with Cammalleri's comments that the Habs have a "loser mentality".
"Usually you see (guys traded) before games, after a pre-game skate, after games you kind of see guys pulled off a plane or bus, but that's the first time I've seen it during a game," Cammalleri said. "So it was a unique circumstance for sure."
The 29-year-old returns to the scene of his best NHL season, where he scored 39 goals and 82 points during the 2008-09 campaign as a member of the Flames. He signed with the Canadiens as an UFA the following summer.
Though he had scored goals in three of his last seven games, Cammalleri didn't score a goal in 10 prior contests. His offensive production has decreased each year in Montreal, and this season's nine goals and 22 points in 37 games was a huge disappointment.