For two periods, the Bruins played like the team Montreal bounced from the playoffs last season. Luckily for Boston, the team that has dominated the Eastern Conference this season showed up just in time.
Michal Grosek broke a tie with his first goal of the season, lifting Boston past the Montreal Canadiens, 4-2, Friday. It was the first game between the teams since the Canadiens stunned the top-seeded Bruins in the first round of the playoffs.
Much like in its six-game wipeout last spring, Boston outshot Montreal by a considerable margin. But Friday, the Bruins capitalized on their opportunities, and by doing so extended their home winning streak to eight games, their longest since 1983.
The Bruins are 7-2 in games decided by two goals or fewer, including a 5-1 mark in one-goal games.
"The difference this season is we're winning the close games," Mike Knuble said. "As a group we always believe we can win."
Grosek took a pass from Sean Brown, set up at the top of the faceoff circle and sent a slap shot past Jose Theodore to put Boston ahead 3-2 at 5:40 of the third period.
That goal came just 1 1/2 minutes after Montreal's Richard Zednik made it 2-2 with his second score of the game and 12th of the season.
Then, with just over three minutes left, Joe Thornton added an unassisted goal. Thornton beat a pair of Canadiens defenders and deked Theodore with a back-hander for his 11th goal.
The Bruins outshot Montreal, 42-26, overall, including 15-4 in the second period.
"We knew (Theodore) was good coming in, so we just kept shooting. Hopefully some would go in, and they did," said Thornton.
Jozef Stumpel gave Boston a 2-1 lead on a back-handed wrist shot earlier in the third period.
Glen Murray put Boston ahead, 1-0, when Knuble fed him in front of the net, and he beat Theodore through the pads. Murray has a goal in four straight games.
Zednik tied it just 10 seconds into Montreal's first power play, redirecting Andrei Markov's shot past Steve Shields midway through the opening period.
Shields stopped 26 shots for the Bruins.
Boston, which lost Bill Guerin to Dallas in the offseason and has been without Sergei Samsonov for the last 18 games because of a wrist injury, has been an unexpected offensive juggernaut this season. The Bruins lead the Eastern Conference with 79 goals scored, an average of 3.6 per game.
"It's a tough team to play against. They play well, they play with a lot of confidence and they work very hard," said Canadiens coach Michel Therrien. "They deserve all the credit for being in the position they're in."
Hurricanes win rematch
RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Carolina Hurricanes gave away hats and the fans got to use them before they left the RBC Center.
Jan Hlavac scored third goals and Jeff O'Neill got the winner with 8:48 left as the Hurricanes scored five power-play goals and beat the Detroit Red Wings, 6-4, in a rematch of last year's Stanley Cup finalists.
Hlavac, who came to Carolina in a trade Nov. 1 from Vancouver, beat Curtis Joseph on a backhanded rebound for the third hat trick of his career with 15:34 left. The fans then littered the ice with more than 100 hats.
"We gave a little bit of a power-play clinic, which our fans are not accustomed to seeing," said goaltender Arturs Irbe, who took over in net late in the first period for an injured Kevin Weekes.
Weekes took an elbow from Carolina defenseman Bret Hedican after Hedican was pushed into the crease by Kirk Maltby and suffered a concussion with 5:11 left in the first.
"We were motivated and guys got electrified," Irbe said of the attitude between the first and second periods after Weekes had been knocked out. "You could sense it. Guys were going to put their gears a little bit higher and just take over."
Rod Brind'Amour had three assists for Carolina.
Around the rinks
Backup goalie Peter Skudra made 32 saves and Daniel Sedin scored a tie-breaking power-play goal in the third period as the Canucks extended their franchise-record winning streak to nine games with a 5-3 victory over the Lightning. . . . Keith Carney had a goal and an assist as the Mighty Ducks rallied to tie the Kings, 2-2. . . . Marian Hossa's goal extended his point-scoring streak to a franchise-record 12 games and the Senators remained unbeaten in nine games (7-0-2) with a 6-2 victory over the Capitals. . . . Ray Whitney scored twice to help the Blue Jackets snap a three-game losing streak and beat the Islanders, 4-2. Jason Blake and Alexei Yashin scored for the Islanders. . . . Antti Laaksonen's third-period goal lifted the Wild into a 2-2 tie with the Avalanche. . . . Pavol Demitra scored three goals for his third career hat trick and added an assist as the Blues beat the Flames, 7-2. . . . Backup goaltender Corey Schwab turned back 28 shots to lead the Devils to a 2-1 victory over the Predators. . . . Brenden Morrow scored twice, including the tying goal in the second period, and the Stars remained unbeaten at home (10-0-1-1) with a 3-3 tie against the Rangers.