Canadiens run losing streak to eight games after taking early lead against Bruins

Canadiens run losing streak to eight games after taking early lead against Bruins
The Bruins scored three goals in the third period to extend their winning streak to seven games, while the Canadiens’ losing streak has hit eight games (0-5-3).

Montreal took a lead early in the game and proceeded to do all the things they didn’t do in the first seven games of the losing streak.

They forechecked. They backchecked. They didn’t allow the Bruins the odd-man rushes that have plagued the Canadiens during their losing streak.

And Carey Price was at the top of his game.

Canadiens’ Carey Price saves a shot on goal from Charlie Coyle of the Bruins during the first period at Boston’s TD Garden on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019. Maddie Meyer / Getty Images

But this game became a cliffhanger when the Canadiens provided the smallest of openings for David Pastrnak, the leading goal-scorer in the NHL. He eluded defenceman Gustav Olofsson along the boards and beat Price with a shot over the goaltender’s left shoulder to tie the game at 6:16 of the third period. It was Pastrnak’s 25th goal.

A holding penalty to Nick Cousins gave the Bruins a power play — never a good idea, considering the sorry state of the Montreal penalty-kill — and David Backes scored to give the Bruins the lead at 10:29. Jake DeBrusk added an insurance goal.

Claude Julien reunited the Finnish Connection with Jesperi Kotkaniemi between Artturi Lehkonen and Joel Armia, and they got the bounce to give the Canadiens a 1-0 lead at 1:58 of the first period. Armia was credited with an unassisted goal when he threw a puck toward the net and it caromed in off Bruins defenceman Charlie McAvoy’s skate. Armia, who had five of Montreal’s 11 shots in the first period, has scored in each of the last three games and has 10 goals on the season.

The Canadiens dodged a bullet or two in the dying minutes of the second period. Shea Weber was penalized for interference, but Montreal managed to kill the penalty and then held on in the final minute when the Bruins put on a push. Matt Grzelcyk had the best chance when he swatted at a loose puck at the side of the net, but his shot slid harmlessly through the crease.

This was the tail end of a back-to-back situation, and the Canadiens didn’t play nearly as well at home Saturday afternoon when they dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to the Philadelphia Flyers.

With Victor Mete sidelined by a lower-body injury, Julien was forced to juggle his defence pairings. Brett Kulak, who was a healthy scratch Saturday against Philadelphia, was on the top pair with Weber, while Ben Chiarot and Jeff Petry were the No. 2 pair. Olofsson, who was called up from Laval on Friday, played with rookie Cale Fleury. Olofsson was used sparingly, but was on the ice just long enough to open the door for the Bruins.

While a snowstorm caused widespread cancellations at Boston-area airports Sunday, the Canadiens’ charter flight was able to take off after the game. They’re back in action Tuesday when the New York Islanders visit the Bell Centre.
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