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Briere, Canadiens stun Bruins to take Game 7
Boston, MA (SportsNetwork.com) - It was only 366 days ago that the Bruins performed a miracle, rallying from a 4-1 deficit to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in overtime of a Game 7 at TD Garden.
On Wednesday night, another miracle was not forthcoming.
Danny Briere registered the insurance goal late in the third period and assisted on the game's opening tally, Carey Price came up with 29 saves, and the Montreal Canadiens advanced to the Eastern Conference finals with a 3-1 victory over Boston.
Dale Weise and Max Pacioretty also tallied for the Canadiens, who repeated a similar feat from 10 years ago and stunned their long-time rivals on the road in a seventh game.
"One thing you have to realize is respect was earned, whether you think it was or not, the Bruins have to respect us," said Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban, who was a rookie when his club lost to the eventual Cup champions three years ago in a Game 7 overtime in the first round.
Montreal will take on the New York Rangers in the next round, the first time the two Original Six franchises battle for the right to play in the Stanley Cup Finals since 1986. The first matchup is scheduled for Saturday afternoon at Bell Centre.
Jarome Iginla provided the sole offense for the Bruins, who were the defending conference champions. Tuukka Rask stopped only 15-of-18 shots in the season- ending setback.
"Our goals were much, much higher than obviously finishing in the second round so of course it is disappointing," said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. "I don't know what happened. We fell behind constantly and it put us in a bad spot mentally, and it seemed to set us back a bit."
Leading by one, Montreal was handed a prime chance to give themselves breathing room after Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk was sent off for interference with 4:31 left in regulation, and made the most of it thanks to a battle-tested veteran.
Brendan Gallagher led a 3-on-3 rush up the right wing and dished off to Briere, who found space between two defenders in the right circle and flung a shot on goal which somehow managed to squirt through Rask and give the Habs a 3-1 advantage at 17:07.
Canadiens blueliner Andrei Markov was caught for the same infraction with 2:01 remaining, and Rask went to the bench to give the Bruins a 6-on-4 edge. The hosts failed to swarm around Price as they did through most of the latter half of regulation.
"I'm ecstatic. I don't show it a lot but you have to realize it's not over. We're only halfway there," Price admitted. The next step includes an Olympic gold medal rematch with his Swedish counterpart and New York starter Henrik Lundqvist.
For the Presidents' Trophy winners, this defeat was a grim reminder of a Game 7 overtime loss at home to the Carolina Hurricanes in 2009, and an epic Game 7 defeat to the Philadelphia Flyers four years ago tonight.
The Canadiens' fourth line struck just 2:18 after the opening faceoff. Brandon Prust won a puck battle on the left-wing near the end boards and dished across to Briere, whose one-touch dish was redirected home by Weise at the right post.
Snapped to attention, the hosts followed up with the better opportunities but couldn't finish.
Brad Marchand gained control of a Habs turnover in front of Price, but flipped the puck just over the crossbar in the final minute of the period. Price again denied Marchand on a turnaround shot from the inner edge of the left circle nearly 2 1/2 minutes into the second period.
Patrice Bergeron was denied from the right side off a 2-on-1 break after the four-minute mark, then Rask turned away an open Brian Gionta in front with 5 1/2 minutes elapsed.
Midway through the period, Boston failed twice to clear a puck out of its own zone, and it came back to haunt them.
Gallagher gained control in the left circle and turned to find David Desharnais on the left wing, He poked it away from two checkers into the back circle, and a cross-ice dish for a wide-open Pacioretty found the back of the net with 9:38 left in the middle frame.
Iginla put an uncontested shot from the left circle into the outside of the net on a power play with 2 1/2 minutes showing, but on the next offensive rush, he moved to the top of the crease and redirected Torey Krug's wrister past Price to make it 2-1.
"He was a great player and unbelievable person -- he fit in beautifully with our players," said Bruins head coach Claude Julien of Iginla, who was rumored to be on his way to Boston at last season's trade deadline.
Price slid on his belly from right to left to try and smother an Iginla shot with just over four minutes into the third, but the puck instead bounced off the near post.
Montreal has won six of the nine Game 7s against Boston, winning three of the last four since 1994 ... The Canadiens improved to 14-9 during deciding contests in a best-of-seven series, and upped their mark to 6-6 on the road ... The Bruins fell to 13-12 in Game 7s overall, and 12-8 on friendly ice ... Jose Theodore and two goals from Richard Zednik helped the Habs overcome a 3-1 series deficit and beat the Bruins in Game 7 of the 2004 Eastern quarters ... Montreal last reached the Eastern Conference finals in 2010, where it dropped a five-game series to Philadelphia ... Iginla's score ended a shutout string from Price lasting 103 minutes, 46 seconds .... Boston recorded one goal over the final 125 minutes, 58 seconds of the series ... Briere has recorded four points (2G, 2A) in his last two Game 7s against the Bruins (2010 with the Flyers, 2014 with the Canadiens), and upped his career totals to 115 points (52G, 63A) in 118 postseason appearances ... Julien tied Mike Keenan for most Game 7s as a head coach with 10, while Chara's 11 Game 7 appearances are the most for any active player.
05/14 23:37:37 ET