The Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins will meet for a record ninth time in a Game Seven Wednesday night at TD Garden.
The two “Original Six” teams have met 34 times in the postseason, and their ninth Game Seven is tops amongst the four major pro sports. The rivals are ahead of Detroit and Toronto’s six Game Sevens, and the NBA’s Boston and Philadelphia squads also battling in six deciding games, according to NHL.com. Boston won the last pivotal game en route to the Stanley Cup in 2011, but Montreal has taken five of the last eight Game Sevens.
The winner moves on to face the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals. Boston is hoping to make the conference finals for the third time in the last four seasons, while storied Montreal last made it in 2010.
Montreal presently has much of the momentum after forcing the final game with a 4-0 shutout victory in Game Six, led by two goals from Thomas Vanek and 26 saves by goalie Carey Price. Left wing Max Pacioretty snapped his two-game point-less streak with a goal and assist as well, but it was only his second goal of the playoffs after leading Montreal with 39 in the regular season.
Fellow left wing Vanek is now tops on Montreal with five goals in the playoffs, and the Canadiens own the highest scoring attack in the postseason with 3.3 goals per game. It was also the first shutout of the postseason for Price and the Canadiens defense, and second time Boston’s been blanked.
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His line playing well and a confidence-boosting performance in Game Six may help Price erase the memory of his last Game Seven. Back in 2011, Price gave up four goals while making 30 saves in Montreal’s 4-3 loss to Boston. Though in 2008, Price shutout Boston with 25 saves in the 5-0 first-round Game Seven win.
Game Six was a difficult loss for Bruins keeper Tuukaa Rask, who’s now given up four goals in three of his six starts in the series. Rask is still tops among all goalies in the playoffs with a 1.90 goals against average and a .933 save percentage. Like Price, Rask has a 1-1 record in Game Sevens, the most recent being a 5-4 overtime victory over Toronto in the first round last year when he allowed four goals and made 28 saves.
The Bruins offense, ranked 11th in the postseason with 2.64 goals per game, offered Rask no help. Leading scorers in the regular season Patrice Bergeron and Jerome Iginla have scored one goal combined in the last three games, leaving an opportunity for the likes of second-year center Carl Soderberg and veteran left wing Loui Eriksson.
The pair combined for two goals and three assists in Game Five’s 4-2 win, setting the table for the chance to knock the Bruins out in the next game.
Start Time: 7 p.m. EST
TV Channel: NBC Sports Network
Live Online Stream Info: A live online stream is available at NBC Live Extra here.
Betting Odds: Boston -1.5
Over/Under: 5 goals
Prediction: Boston over Montreal 2-1 OT