Things were starting to look bleak again for the Bruins (18-12-4): they had lost consecutive games 5-3 at Pittsburgh (15-12-6) on Friday and then 4-2 to Buffalo (20-9-5) on Sunday night at TD Garden.
Naturally, they responded by doing what they’ve done all season-long-get results when they seem most unlikely.
Boston went to the Bell Centre on Monday and blanked Montreal (17-12-5) 4-0 in one of their most complete games of 2018-19.
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Goaltender Jaroslav Halak (22 saves, 10-5-2 on the season) picked up his first road win of the campaign along with his third career shutout and the 45th of his career (second most among active players in the NHL). It was an important way to end a very difficult stretch for Boston who improved to 4-1-2 in the second game of back-to-backs and an amazing 6-1-1 in the third game of the dreaded three-games-in-four-nights stretch.
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy knew that win probably had a little extra value for his veteran backup Halak who played for Montreal from 2006-10. “I suspect that he’ll feel good about this one. I think any shutout for a goalie on the road, for a team you used to play on, probably means a little more.”
Boston also notched an impressive record on Monday as they picked up their fifth straight win at the Bell Centre, dating back to Dec. 12, 2016. That’s now the longest such mark in team history, eclipsing the previous mark of 4-0-0 set ages ago from Jan. 11-Dec. 20, 1941.
Secondary scoring has been a major issue for the B’s but not against the Habs as four different players tallied goals for them (Joakim Nordstrom, Colby Cave, David Krejci, and Brad Marchand). Cave also had an assist to go with his first-ever NHL goal while Marchand sealed it with a power-play goal.
The Black and Gold are off Tuesday and get back to practice on Wednesday ahead of one last three-games-in-four-nights present from the NHL before the league-wide Christmas break. One of the hottest teams in hockey (9-1-1 in its last 10 games) comes to the Garden on Thursday (7, NESN) as the Anaheim Ducks (19-11-5) takes on Boston. That’s followed by one of the best teams in the NHL — the Nashville Predators (22-10-2) — visiting here on Saturday afternoon (1, NESN). Finally, Boston goes to the scuffling Carolina Hurricanes (14-13-5) on Sunday night (5, NESN).
The Bruins have proven themselves to be one of the top teams at home this season (11-4-0) while their middling road record (7-8-4) still leaves something to be desired. They are 4-2-0 in their last six games and these upcoming contests should be a real test before they mercifully get a few days off in a row. Center Patrice Bergeron (9 goals, 17 assists) along with defensemen Zdeno Chara (3 goals, 1 assist) and Kevan Miller (2 assists) all appear getting close to a return to action, for some possibly as early as this weekend which would represent the ultimate gifts for Cassidy and their teammates.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate