Familiar foes will renew acquaintances on Thursday night as the Montreal Canadiens visit the Boston Bruins for Game 1 of their Eastern Conference second-round series.
The Original Six rivals set up their 34th meeting in postseason history after Montreal swept Tampa Bay in the first round and Boston dispatched Detroit in five games. The Canadiens own an impressive 24-9 series mark versus the Bruins, but the latter has won seven of the last 11 sets — including a seven-game classic in 2011.
Although Boston finished with 117 points to claim the second Presidents’ Trophy in franchise history, it dropped three of four decisions to Montreal this season and has lost six of seven overall meetings. Max Pacioretty scored a pair of game-winning goals and defenseman Alexei Emelin also tallied twice versus the Bruins in 2013-14.
Vezina Trophy finalist Tuukka Rask owns a 3-10-3 career mark versus the Canadiens but deserved a better fate than his 1-2-1 record this season after posting a 1.94 goals-against average.
TV: 7:30 p.m., NBCSN, CBC
ABOUT THE CANADIENS: Thomas Vanek traditionally has been a thorn in the side of Boston, recording 62 points in 55 career games. Alex Galchenyuk took a step toward rejoining the lineup by skating on his own for the first time on Wednesday. Galchenyuk, who has been sidelined since April 9 with a knee injury, is expected to participate in the series versus the Bruins at some point.
ABOUT THE BRUINS: Patrice Bergeron, who scored twice against Montreal, recorded one goal and four assists versus Detroit. Milan Lucic netted a team-leading three goals against the Red Wings and admittedly is revved up to face Montreal. “You know you just naturally learn to hate the Montreal Canadiens, and the battles that we’ve had with them over the last couple years, it’s definitely made you hate them,” Lucic said.
PAILLE RETURNS: Boston forward Daniel Paille has been cleared to return for the Bruins’ playoff second-round series against the Montreal Canadiens, coach Claude Julien said Tuesday after practice.
The 30-year-old Paille has not played since April 12 when he sustained a head injury on a hit from Jake McCabe of the Buffalo Sabres. It was not disclosed by the team whether Paille suffered a concussion.
Tuesday was Paille’s first practice with full contact. He skated with the Bruins’ second line, taking the place of Brad Marchand, who was missing from practice. Before Paille was injured, he was part of the Bruins’ fourth line and had nine goals and nine assists for 18 points.
Also at practice on Tuesday was defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who suffered a serious knee injury and was expected to be out for the season. Seidenberg has yet to be cleared for contact.
SERIES NOTES: Montreal G Carey Price made only one start against Boston this season, turning aside 32 shots in a 2-1 home win on Dec. 5. Price owns a 17-8-3 career mark versus the Bruins. … The Canadiens would be best served to ignite their sputtering power play, which went 2-for-13 in the first round after failing to convert on its last 23 opportunities in the regular season.