MONTREAL (AP)—The Montreal Canadiens parlayed a couple of faceoff wins into their most lopsided win in nearly two years.
Bruins coach Claude Julien singled out faceoff losses that resulted in the Canadiens taking a 2-0 lead.
“It cost us the first two goals, so it kind of changed the momentum of the game and then I guess we were backpedaling the rest of the game,” Julien said. “If anything, we lost our composure.”
The five-goal margin was Montreal’s biggest since a 5-0 win over Philadelphia on Feb. 5, 2006.
Bryan Smolinski, who played his 1,000th NHL regular-season game, set up Grabovski’s first career goal with a pass on a 2-on-1 that put the Canadiens up 5-1 midway through the third.
“I remember my first goal and it was just a play that happened,” said Smolinski, who faked a shot before feeding a pass to Grabovski. “It was just executing a 2-on-1, that’s what you have to do.”
Dennis Wideman scored his first of the season earlier in the period for the Bruins (5-3).
“Boston’s known right now for playing a tight-checking game and they didn’t give us a lot in the first half of the game, so when you get your first two goals off the faceoff like that it’s a huge plus and it obviously makes things a bit easier,” said Koivu, whose faceoff win led to Higgins’ opening goal.
Huet made a huge save off a 2-on-1 opportunity midway through the first period to keep the game scoreless. He caught a break after he stopped Glen Metropolit’s shot from the left side as he slid to his left and stopped a rebound chance 9:12 in by Glen Murray, who had a shot at an open right side.
“I guess he was a little surprised and he couldn’t really get his stick on it,” Huet said. “I was pretty happy about that.”
Murray confirmed that he misfired on the shot.
“It was one of those things where I was going to the net and it came up in the air, and it landed there and I hit it with my heel,” Murray said.
Higgins scored his third of the season at 12:14 after a faceoff in the Bruins’ zone.
Higgins jumped on the rebound before it could be cleared by defenseman Zdeno Chara and beat Fernandez for his second goal in two games.
Kovalev’s fourth goal 6:28 into the second was more of a direct result of a faceoff win. Plekanec beat Boston’s Marc Savard in the left faceoff circle and fed the puck to Kovalev, who sent a one-timer inside the right post to put Montreal up 2-0.
“That wasn’t rehearsed,” Plekanec said. “He knows I’m trying sometimes to feed him but this one was just luck.”
Begin finished a 2-on-1 with Tom Kostopoulos for his first goal at 17:48. Kostopoulos held the puck as he came down the right side before passing around defenseman Aaron Ward to the front of the net, where Begin redirected the puck past Fernandez.
“What a play. That’s the way to be patient,” Begin said. “What a move. He just faked the shot and he waited until the (defenseman) went down and then put it right on my stick.”
Brisebois scored his first of the season on a power play 1:45 into the third to stretch the lead to 4-0.
Markov netted his third goal during another power play at 12:39 for the Canadiens’ sixth goal.
Smolinski began his career with Boston in the 1992-93 season and has also played for Pittsburgh, the New York Islanders, Los Angeles, Ottawa, Chicago and Vancouver. He played 295 games with the Kings from 1999-2003, the most regular-season games of any of the eight teams for which he played. … Fernandez stopped 14 shots. … Kostopoulos had to wait to untangle his stick from Ward’s skate blade before he could join the celebration following Begin’s goal. … RW Andrei Kostitsyn and D Josh Gorges were healthy scratches for Montreal.