BOSTON — The Montreal Canadiens stunned the Boston Bruins and moved into the Eastern Conference finals with a 3-1 victory in Game 7 on Wednesday night.
The Canadiens, who finished 17 points behind the President’s Trophy-winning Bruins in the regular season, open the Eastern Conference finals at home against the New York Rangers on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Bell Centre in Montreal. The Rangers upset the Penguins in Pittsburgh in Game 7 on Tuesday night.
Carey Price made 29 saves and right winger Dale Wiese, left winger Max Pacioretty and center Daniel Briere scored goals for the Canadiens, who stayed alive with a 4-0 home win in Game 6 and had the better jump in their step from the outset of Game 7.
Briere, who set up the Wiese goal, put the game away when his late power-play centering pass hit the skate of Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara and deflected past goaltender Tuukka Rask (15 saves).
Right winger Jarome Iginla scored the lone Bruins goal, cutting a 2-0 Montreal lead in half late in the second period. Iginla had several chances in the third but couldn’t score.
It took the Canadiens just 2:18 to quiet the crowd. Montreal won a puck chase in the corner, left winger Brandon Prust getting the puck to Briere and Briere finding Wiese’s stick in the crease.
The lead was significant because the team scoring first won all 13 previous second-round games in the Eastern Conference.
However, Montreal failed on three consecutive power plays, the last when Boston left winger Brad Marchand was penalized for spraying Price with an ice shower just seven seconds into the second period.
The sides were even when the Bruins twice failed to get the puck out of their zone in the middle of the second period. Montreal center David Desharnais made a steal to create a two-on-one, and he passed to Pacioretty, who scored his second goal in as many games.
The home crowd was getting angrier, both with their teams and the referees, but Pacioretty’s second penalty of the game led to Boston’s goal. Left winger Milan Lucic denied a Canadiens clear, center David Krejci got the puck to defenseman Torey Krug, and Iginla tipped Krug’s shot past Price. The goalie asked for Iginla’s stick to be declared as being too high, but it clearly was not.
Pacioretty has two goals and two assists in a three-game scoring streak.
The Canadiens, who won a Game 7 in Boston for the third time in their history, won the season series from the Rangers 2-1, but there were only four goals scored by the two teams in the three games.
NOTES: In anticipation of possible postgame problems and with Montreal police also on alert, the Boston police shut down all street parking near TD Garden between 7 and 11:59 p.m. Wednesday. … Coming in, the only Montreal goalies to win a Game 7 in Boston were Ken Dryden (1971) and Jose Theodore (2004). Theodore’s 2-0 Game 7 shutout came with current Bruins coach Claude Julien behind the Montreal bench. … Montreal RW Brendan Gallagher on the Bell Centre being sold out for the Game 7 watch party: “I probably shouldn’t be surprised, but I still am.” The 21,000 available tickets sold out in two hours. … Former Bruins star Ray Bourque was the team’s honorary Game 7 flag captain. … Detroit Tigers P Justin Verlander and his girlfriend, actress/model Kate Upton, were at the game, as was Tigers RHP Joba Chamberlain. The Tigers flew in after a day game in Baltimore to play the Boston Red Sox over the weekend. … New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was fined $5,000 by the NHL for unsportsmanlike conduct as a result of an incident during Sunday’s Game 6 of the second-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the league announced Monday. The incident occurred at 20:00 of the second period, when Lundqvist dumped water on the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby. No penalty was assessed to Lundqvist.