Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bitter rivals add to storied playoff legacy


It goes into the record books as one-and-done, but anecdotal history will be kinder than cold fact to the Canadiens, who gave a better account of themselves than anyone could have reasonably expected before bowing out in the first round of the 2011 NHL playoffs.
Like every other game in the series, last night's sudden death thriller in Boston could have gone either way, and came within inches of being a Montreal success story when the puck trickled just wide past a down-and-out Tim Thomas moments before Nathan Horton broke the Canadiens' hearts at 5:43 of overtime.
That it got to that stage is a tremendous testament to the competitive resolve of both teams. The Bruins defied their own playoff history by coming all the way back after losing the first two games at home, while the Canadiens staved off elimination in Game 6 Tuesday before rallying from deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 to force overtime in Game 7.
Even if it didn't produce the same positive result for the Habs, the series was at least as entertaining as last spring's first and second round wins over Washington and Pittsburgh, and twice as emotionally-draining because of the nature of the Boston-Montreal rivalry. Despite the outcome, there was a palpable sense of accomplishment in the Canadiens' post-game comments, which doesn't suggest they're not disappointed as much as it says they have nothing to be ashamed of after giving as good as they got against a superior opponent for seven games and then some.

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