So, it's like I was saying after the Bruins handed the Canadiens their lunch last month in Boston: the Canadiens don't have to be tougher to beat the Bruins - they only have to be better. Tuesday night, they were both, starting with Ryan White, who won a unanimous first period decision over Johnny Boychuk after Boychuk took a run at P.K. Subban. But mostly, it was about being better - better 5 on 5, better on the power play and killing penalties, and better between the pipes, where Carey Price was Ken Dryden to Tukka Rask's Gilles Gilbert, and Patrick Roy to Rask's Reggie Lemelin.
Price didn't have to steal this one, though. He was just another cog in a well-oiled machine. The Canadiens controlled the game from start to subdued finish, when 21 thousand plus left the building thinking less about the outcome than they were about Max Pacioretty's immediate and long-term prognosis. Zdeno Chara's hit on Pacioretty aside - if it's possible to set a hot-button issue of that magnitude aside, even for a moment - the Canadiens' convincing 4-1 win over Boston validated general manager Pierre Gauthier's cautious approach at the trade deadline, when self-proclaimed experts with nothing at stake except water cooler and tavern table bragging rights demanded that Gauthier to go out and acquire more grit, just as they clamored for him to trade Price and keep Jaroslav Halak last summer.
Oh, yeah, the first star in the Canadiens most important and gratifying win of the season? Lars Eller. He's the guy Gauthier got for Halak.