Georges Laraque doesn’t have a problem with Milan Lucic.
And it’s clear Milan Lucic doesn’t have a problem with the Montreal Canadiens, scoring his 6th of the season last night as the Bruins beat the Habs 3-2 in a game that went to a shootout.
Laraque doesn’t take issue with the fact that Lucic went toe-to-toe with Montreal’s Mike Komisarek the last time the Habs and Bruins met. What Laraque DOES take issue with, is the way Lucic celebrated after taking down the big Habs’ defenceman, who came away with upper-body injuries in the scuffle that will keep him out of the Montreal lineup another month or so.
Despite Laraque’s best efforts to goad Lucic into dropping the gloves in last night’s rematch, it was Lucic and the Bruins who had the last laugh.
The crowd was in a festive mood after watching Patrick Roy take centre stage on a night when the Canadiens retired his number 33 jersey in what was not only jersey retirement night for Roy, but “welcome home” night for the former Habs’ netminder.
The Bell Centre continued to buzz as the Canadiens got off to an energetic start. This would be no repeat of the 6-1 smackdown that the Bruins laid on the Canadiens Nov. 13. The Habs were clearly going to make sure of that.
However, it was Laraque’s ongoing attempts to get Lucic to drop his gloves that really had the crowd energized in that opening 20 minutes. Lucic would have no part of it, despite Laraque’s best “yapping” efforts.
Coach Carbonneau decided to play “me and my shadow” by putting Laraque on a line with Saku Koivu and Alex Tanguay for the occasion, and matching the three up against the Lucic-Kessel-Savard combination. The move did appear to put Lucic off his game in that opening period. However, Laraque isn’t exactly a Chris Higgins or a Sergei Kostitsyn out there (two of a number of forwards who ended up playing with Koivu and Tanguay on this night). And putting Laraque on that line took Koivu and Tanguay off THEIR game, as well.
Fast forward to the second period. After Andrei Kostitsyn scored his 3rd of the season at 1:31 of the middle frame, in his best game since getting his bell rung by Kurt Sauer of the Coyotes early in the season, Lucic tied it up some ten minutes later. The goal was scored, not when Lucic was matched up against the Laraques-Koivu-Tanguay line, but while the line of Kovalev-Kostitsyn-Lang was on the ice for Montreal (one of countless line combinations thrown together during the evening by Carbonneau).
Lang was also very good last night, finishing with four shots on goal in a plus-1 performance. Kovalev? Tons of ice time: 24:25. But much of it invisible.
The goal by Lucic was made possible when Kessel turned Ryan O’Byrne inside out (sound familiar?) before feeding the puck to a streaking Lucic, who buried it past Carey Price. Matt Hunwick put the Bruins ahead 2-1 midway through the third before Tom Kostopoulos tied it with less than five minutes to play on a deflection against a very good Tim Thomas, who kicked out 33 of 35 shots he faced. He was particularly busy in the third period, when the Canadiens outshot the Bruins 18-5.
After a scoreless overtime, Thomas continued to hold down the fort: stopping Alex Kovalev, Andrei Markov and Saku Koivu in the shootout. Blake Wheeler opened the scoring in the shootout, and it would prove to be the only goal the Bruins would need.