The Canadiens celebrate Max Pacioretty's second period goal in Game 7 Wednesday night at TD Garden. Credit: Getty Images
The Bruins had the best regular season record in the NHL in 2013-14 and hopes for another deep Stanley Cup playoff run were sky high. But even through all that success, from Oct. 3, 2013 through the start of this week, there was a great deal of doubt from most onlookers regarding the B’s ability to match-up against the Canadiens. Montreal, which took three-of-four in the regular season against the Bruins, ended the Bruins season Wednesday at TD Garden with a 3-1 Game 7 victory. Montreal now advances to the Eastern Conference Finals to face the New York Rangers.
An early Montreal goal and some costly penalties immediately took the home crowd out of it. Daniel Briere caught the Bruins’ defense sleep-walking as he slid a pass to Dale Weise right in front of the net. Tuukka Rask didn’t have a chance on Weise’s offering and the Habs had a 1-0 lead just 2:18 in.
Boston wasn’t getting the calls early on either as Brad Marchand was hit with an interference call. Reilly Smith was soon-after upended in front of Carey Price’s net but there was no interference call.
Just seven seconds into the second period Marchand was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for spraying Price with ice kick-up from his skates after he stopped short in front of the net. It set up yet another early Montreal power play.
Boston finally broke through on the man-advantage 17:58 into the second period as David Krejci dropped the puck back to Torey Krug, who rifled it toward the net. Jarome Iginla got his stick on the screamer and deflected it past Carey Price to cut Montreal’s lead in half, 2-1, heading into the third period.
Montreal owned the slight advantage thanks to Max Pacioretty’s one-timer that beat Rask high 10:22 into the second period. The Bruins were unable to get the puck out of the zone and paid dearly.
What they'll be saying: David Krejci could never get things going this postseason and Tuukka Rask did not look like the Vezina Trophy candidate he was for the majority of the season. Montreal scored first in Game 7 and it was crystal clear that the Habs had the best player in this series - P.K. Subban.
Make no mistake, this was a disappointing season for the Bruins despite their Presidents' Trophy win. In a town which has become accustomed to championships, regular season crowns don't count for much anymore.
It's unlikely that the B's will make wholesale changes this offseason, but some tinkering is certainly necessary. The B's were simply unable to match the Canadiens' fire-power in this series.
Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS