BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins gave the rival Montreal Canadiens a painful reminder Wednesday night that these two franchises are headed in opposite directions as the 2019-20 regular season enters its final stage.
The B's dominated the Canadiens in a 4-1 victory at TD Garden that closed the season series between the NHL's most historic rivals. Boston won three of the four games, including a pair of home wins and a road victory at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
"Overall, one of the better ones this year," Bruins forward David Pastrnak said of his team's latest performance. "I think we played the whole 60 minutes. There's been games where we've been really, really good but couldn't keep that up for the whole game. Today, I think we controlled the game the whole game and didn't give up much. Just stuck to our plan, so, definitely one of the better ones.
"We all knew about their speed. They have some speed in their lineup, so we were getting ready for that. They came out pretty hard, they're fighting (for a playoff spot). We knew they were going to come hard, they were pretty physical, but we were able to match that. We don't mind playing those kinds of games."
The Bruins have the best record in the league at 35-11-12. They very much look like a team poised to make another deep playoff run after coming up just a win short of a Stanley Cup title last season. The Canadiens, meanwhile, are likely going to miss the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons. They are seven points behind a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division and eight points from the second wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.
"They're a well-structured team," Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher said. "They play tight. They don't give up much. That's why they are where they are right now. They made it tough on us. We weren't able to counter it enough to get around their goalie, and once they scored the first goal, they're comfortable in this building."
Here's a quick breakdown of the Bruins-Canadiens season series.
Goals scored: 19 Bruins, 8 Canadiens
Montreal had no answer for Boston's "Perfection Line" of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Pastrnak. Boston's top trio scored 10 goals in four games versus the Canadiens, and Pastrnak had eight of them, including two hat tricks. His latest hat trick came Wednesday night, giving him a league-leading 41 goals.
Special teams: A Bruins advantage in all areas
The Bruins' power-play also was quite effective with five goals in 10 opportunities with the man advantage. Boston scored at least one power-play goal in each of the four games versus Montreal, including Pastrnak's third goal Wednesday night.
Even when the Bruins power play didn't score, it still made the Canadiens penalty kill work pretty hard. Boston generated 28 shot attempts, 18 shots on goal, 12 scoring chances and nine high-danger scoring chances during its 10 power plays.
The Bruins' penalty kill was even better in the season series, surrendering zero goals in eight shorthanded situations. Boston gave up just 12 shot attempts and two high-danger scoring chances to Montreal's power play.
Goaltending: Carey Price falters
Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak outplayed Carey Price, and this was a pivotal factor in the Bruins winning the season series. Rask has struggled against the Canadiens in the past, but he held his own this season. He made 28 saves on 29 shots on Wednesday for his second victory over Montreal. He finishes with a 2-1 record, a .921 save percentage and a 2.35 GAA versus the Canadiens. Halak made 36 saves on 37 shots in Boston's 8-1 beatdown of the Canadiens back in November.
Price gave up five goals on 11 shots in barely more than a period versus the Bruins in that 8-1 loss. He went 0-4 with an .860 save percentage and a 4.35 GAA against Boston this season.