Sunday, April 20, 2008
Is it me, or do the games in this series keep getting better and better? With the exception of Games 1 and 5, every game has been decided by 1 goal. The Bruins have scored 15 times, the Canadiens have scored 14 times. This is a classic Stanley Cup series.
Game 6 was a back and forth tussle, but wasn't as close as the 5-4 score suggests. Two of the Habs' goals were freaky and borderline lucky. Montreal also benefited from calls and non-calls that went their way all night.
Montreal got penalized for diving two times last night. But each time, a Bruins would receive a matching penalty for holding or interference. This has been a trend in the NHL all season. There have been very few straight diving penalties. Both Steve Begin and Andrei Kostitsyn should have gone to the box by themselves, and the Bruins should have gotten power plays. Instead, there were 4 on 4 situations. I mean how hard is it to get Steve Begin to his knees? All you need is a tap on the ankle or $12.
The first goal was scored during one of those 4 on 4s. Saku Koivu won a faceoff in the Bruins' zone. Defenseman Dennis Wideman stumbled around to find the puck instead of playing the man. And that man - Christopher Higgins - found the puck, made a great individual effort to get to the slot, and snapped it past Thomas.
Phil Kessel tied it up in the 2nd with the goal of the year. Marc Savard had the puck at center ice, but blew an edge and went down. Kessel scrambled and picked up the loose puck and took it in by himself. He had two defensemen in front of him, two Canadiens behind. But he took it in 1 on 4. He went inside out on the defenseman, passing to himself through the defenders legs, then wristed it past Carey Price to tie the game 1-1.
Montreal took the lead back thanks to some fortunate timing. A Bruins' power play was winding down when the puck squirted out of the zone and was grabbed by Steve Begin. But with Tomas Plekanec just coming out of the penalty box, Montreal already had a man behind the Bruins defense. Plekanec got the pass, had plenty of time, and beat Tim Thomas to the post to make it 2-1 Montreal.
The Bruins had two big near misses in the 2nd. Krejci hit a post, and the puck drifted along the goal line behind Price, who nearly kicked it in himself by accident. Chara had another chance with a wrist shot from the low wing. The shot beat Price, but it hit the elbow of the post.
The 3rd period saw the worst officiating of the night. Roman Hamrlik blatantly hooked down Marc Savard by jamming his stick into his armpit, then pulling. It was right in front of the ref, but he did nothing. The Canadiens, aware of their "special" French rulebook, took advantage by hacking the Bruins with their sticks, holding them against the boards, and doing all that borderline stuff that the Bruins would get penalized for.
But the B's were still able to score. Sobotka tied it up at 2-2 3:13 into the period. Halfway through the final frame, goalfest began. After 4 total goals in 50 minutes of hockey, Boston and Montreal combined for 5 goals in the last 10 minutes.
Francis Bouillon's shot deflected off the shaft of Shane Hnidy's stick, making the save impossible for Thomas. About two minutes later, Milan Lucic tipped in a shot to tie the game at 3-3. Two and a half minutes later, Sturm hit Kessel with a centering pass and Kessel tipped it in to give the B's their first lead of the game.
Eleven seconds later, that lead was taken away as Christopher Higgins took advantage of a defensive overload to make it 4-4.
Ninety seconds after Higgins tied it, Sturm put the Bruins ahead for good. It was a complete all around effort for the German winger. He outmuscled the larger Roman Hamrlik twice to create space for himself to shoot once, then get his own rebound, drag the puck across the slot, wait for Price to commit, then snap it past him.
Phil Kessel now has 3 goals in 2 games played this series. Marc Savard leads all scoring in the series with 6 points (5 assists, 1 goal). This is the first time the Bruins have forced a Game 7 after being down 3-1. It's the first time Montreal has allowed a Game 7 after being up 3-1.
Game 7, Monday night, 7:05 PM, on NESN, CBC, but not on Versus. Another brilliant decision by Versus, carry Game 6 of the Philly/Washington series, not Game 7 of Boston/Montreal an Original 6 rivalry and a series that's provided 4 amazingly classic games already.
AP Photo/Winslow Townson
AP Photo/Bill Sikes