Montreal blanks Boston in series opener

Brian Gionta had two goals and Carey Price turned away 31 shots as the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Boston Bruins 2-0 on Thursday night.

Scott Gomez assisted on both Montreal goals that came as a result of turnovers in the Boston zone.

The game was void of a lot of the bad blood that was anticipated between the rival clubs, with Montreal not engaging in any extracurricular activity the Bruins tried to drag them into.

Brad Marchand had six shots on goal and Zdeno Chara had five in what seemed like a lopsided game.

Montreal’s captain opened the scoring on the first shot of the game on a give away by Bruins defenceman Tomas Kaberle. Gomez intercepted a clearing attempt from the Boston defender and cycled the puck around the net to Gionta, who found himself alone in front of the net where he made no mistake putting it over Tim Thomas’ shoulder to make the score 1-0.

The second goal came late in the third period after Gomez stole the puck off Milan Lucic’s stick as he was attempting to clear his zone. Gomez quickly made a pass to Gionta, who’s slap shot went past Thomas, 2-0.

Marchand had several chances to score in the period, the best came in the form of missing an open net. Finding himself alone with an awning goal, the Halifax native fanned on a hard pass from the point.

The second period was all about Price. Montreal was outshot 18-6 yet the Bruins were unable to find the back of the net. The Canadiens managed to keep Boston’s shooters to the outside of the zone and relied on the stellar play of Price, who managed to control most rebounds.

At the other end of the ice, Thomas, who’s .938 save percentage in the regular season set a new NHL record, looked more like a fish out of water. Thomas gave up many rebounds, fumbled pucks and failed to make key saves in what turned out to be a very uncharacteristic game.

Andrei Kostitsyn left the game at 17:32 of the first period after blocking a shot on his left ankle from Chara. He did not return to the bench until the second period and managed to finish the game.

Montreal and Boston face off again on Saturday.

NOTES: Boston and Montreal meet for the 33rd time in the post-season, a NHL record … The last time the two teams met in the playoffs was 2009 in the Eastern Conference quarter-finals. Boston swept that series 4-0 … Max Pacioretty, out with a concussion, will not play in the first-round series … Tyler Seguin and Shane Hnidy were scratched for Boston … Paul Mara, Jeff Halpern, and Yannick Weber sat out for Montreal.