BOSTON — The Bruins’ season is over. The Montreal Canadiens beat Boston 3-1 in Game 7 of their NHL Eastern Conference semifinal series Wednesday night.
Before Game 7, Bruins fans were optimistic. Standing on top of a Boston Fire Department truck parked on Causeway Street near TD Garden, a firefighter waved a yellow Bruins flag and pumped up the crowd passing by the Bobby Orr statue.
But when the puck dropped the Canadiens quickly got the advantage with a goal from Dale Weise just 2:18 into the first period. They never gave up the lead.
After the game, Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban said a strong start was a priority.
“I think you have to create momentum for your team. You have to create that positive atmosphere. It just doesn’t come, it just doesn’t happen. And I thought we had the right mindset,” Subban said. “We knew we wanted to be on them. We wanted to be in their face. And if we made mistakes we were going to make it being in their face and being aggressive.”
After Max Pacioretty scored to put Montreal up 2-0, the Bruins rallied in the second period. Jarome Iginla scored, redirecting a slap shot past Montreal goalie Carey Price. But after that all Boston could muster was close calls and near misses.
The Bruins had 30 shots on goal. Montreal had just 18. After shutting out Boston in Game 6, Price was nearly perfect again. Bruins coach Claude Julien was impressed.
“[Price] gave ‘em a chance to win every night. There’s some nights when we thought we could have come up with a win,” Julien said. “Certainly when you play the way he did, it certainly gave his team a lot of confidence. So that was, to me, one of the keys to their success.”
After sharp defensive performances in Games 4 and 5, the Bruins allowed seven goals in the final two matchups.
“You always try to get better as the series went on. I don’t think this was the case for us as far as defensively,” Boston goalie Tuukka Rask said. “We made some uncharacteristic mistakes, and that ended up costing us the series.”
The Bruins had the NHL’s best regular-season record. Forward Brad Marchand says that makes it even more painful to get knocked out in the second round of the playoffs.
“We expected to go all the way this year,” he said. “It’s very tough. It’s very disappointing. It’s hard to really put into words, but we expected a lot more.”
The Bruins and Canadiens have the most storied rivalry in NHL history — now 177 playoff games between them. That makes the loss even tougher for a lot of fans, like Taunton resident Nancy Ciampi.
“I’m sad. I love the Bruins,” she said.
Asked if the feeling was worse because the defeat came at the hands of Montreal, Ciampi laughed. “Yes. Yeah, we weren’t expecting that,” she said. “We thought they’d definitely win, you know.”
With the victory, the Canadiens advance to the Eastern Conference finals.
Bruins fan Dave Pascarella says he’ll now be rooting for the enemy.
“Well, when they’re playing the Bruins, we hate Montreal, but it’s their time,” the Beverly resident said. “If Boston can’t be in it, I’ll root for Montreal.”
Sounds like a noble sentiment for a Boston fan, but not so fast. The Canadiens’ next opponent? The New York Rangers.