Canadiens 3, Bruins 2

Tuukka Rask took the blame for a tough loss after Sergei

Kostitsyn and the Montreal Canadiens took advantage of Bell

Centre’s lively boards to victimize the Boston goalie on a

seemingly harmless dump-in.

Rask misplayed the puck behind his own net on a play that led

directly to Kostitsyn’s second goal of the game and Montreal went

on to its season-high fifth straight win, 3-2 over the Bruins on

Saturday night.

Kostitsyn, who has three goals in two games, put Montreal up 3-1

early in the third when jumped on an opportunity after Rask was

unable to handle Hal Gill’s dump-in off the end boards.

The puck slid under Rask’s stick and Kostitsyn – who gave the

Canadiens a 2-0 lead when he scored late in the first – fired the

loose puck into the wide open net for his fifth of the season 1:41

into the third before the Finnish goalie could stop it with a

desperate stick lunge.

“I think I misread it,” Rask said. “I went to play it on my

forehand. To me, it seems like it came out of the boards faster

than before it hit the boards. It’s tough when your goalie makes a

mistake like that. It shows on the scoreboard and tonight it cost

us the game.”

The loss was a missed opportunity for the Bruins to gain some

breathing space in their drive for a playoff spot. Boston, which

finished first overall in the Eastern Conference last season, is

eighth in the East with 72 points, three ahead of the New York

Rangers and four up on Tampa Bay.

“All in all, the way Montreal’s been playing thus far, we

didn’t put a full 60-minute effort in and I think that’s what hurt

us today,” said Milan Lucic, who scored 11:46 into the third to

draw Boston within one.

Jaroslav Halak made 21 saves, and Andrei Markov had a goal and

an assist for Montreal, which has won six of seven since the

Olympic break.

Halak stopped Marco Sturm with less than 5 minutes remaining in

the third to help send the Canadiens’ on to their longest winning

streak since a five-game run from Oct. 11-20, 2008.

“It’s a team game,” said Halak, who has won all five games

during the streak. “The guys were there for me most of the game –

when I needed to be there, I made a stop.”

Montreal remained tied for sixth place in the Eastern Conference

with Philadelphia. Both teams have 76 points, though the Canadiens

have played three more games.

“Every morning we see the board and it’s always nice to look at

it after we win,” Markov said.

Rask stopped 24 shots, and Blake Wheeler also scored for Boston,

which fell to 1-2-1 in its last four games, a skid that began with

a 2-1 loss in Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Bruins center Marc Savard was lost to injury indefinitely as the

result of a controversial hit to the head by Penguins forward Matt

Cooke during that game. Prior to that, Boston had lost once in

regulation in its previous nine games (6-1-2).

Lucic drew the Bruins within one when he circled back along the

right side in the Canadiens zone to the top of the slot, where he

fired a wrist shot through traffic past Halak for his seventh

goal.

Maxim Lapierre returned to Montreal’s lineup after serving a

four-game suspension for his hit from behind on San Jose’s Scott

Nichol.

Markov extended his points streak to six games when he opened

the scoring with a power-play goal 6:02 in. The Russian defenseman

was credited with his fifth goal when his slap shot from the point

was redirected past Rask off Boston defenseman Dennis Seidenberg’s

stick.

Markov got his second point of the opening period with an assist

on Kostitsyn’s goal at 19:20. Kostitsyn scored for the second

straight game with 39.5 seconds left when he swiped the puck inside

the left post with a backhand from the edge of the crease after

Markov made a return pass from behind the goal line.

“I hope my best games are in the future,” said Markov, who has

27 points while being limited to 33 games because of injuries this

season. “Right now, I’m having fun.”

Wheeler drew the Bruins to 2-1 with his 16th goal 1:12 into the

second.

NOTES: Bruins C Patrice Bergeron was one of six Canadian Olympic

medalists honored prior to the game. Bergeron drew cheers as he

skated to center ice and donned a red Canada ballcap. He was joined

by Kim St. Pierre, Charline Labonte, Catherine Ward and Caroline

Ouellette – all members of Canada’s gold medal-winning women’s

hockey team – and speed skater Clara Hughes, who won bronze in the

women’s 5000 meters. “It was nice to get that ovation and it was

nice from the Canadiens’ standpoint to honor the Olympics,”

Bergeron said.