BOSTON (AP) — Charlie Coyle had an attempted clearing pass carom into the net off his head for his first of two goals, Charlie McAvoy also scored twice, and the Boston Bruins beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-2 on Sunday night in the 750th meeting between the longtime rivals.
It was the first time they faced each other in nearly two years — 641 days to be exact — because of altered divisions and scheduling changes by the NHL last season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"It's always more. It's not one of 82 (games)," Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said of the rivalry. "Yes, it's one of 82 tomorrow. ... It's still the Montreal Canadiens and we want to beat them every time we step on the ice."
Jeremy Swayman stopped 27 shots for Boston, improving his career record to 8-0-0 at TD Garden. Taylor Hall added an empty-netter as the Bruins improved to 6-1 at home.
Joel Armia and Michael Pezzetta had the Canadiens' goals, and Sam Montembeault made 36 saves. Montreal fell to 1-6-1 on the road.
Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry, positioned in front of the crease, attempted to clear the puck into the corner, but it hit Coyle before bouncing into the net 5:58 into the third period. McAvoy had tied it just over three minutes earlier.
"I'll take more of those to be honest," said Coyle, who explained that puck bounced off his visor. "I got a pretty good bounce there. It was a big goal. There was a few laughs and stuff, it doesn't happen very often."
Coyle added an insurance goal at 9:05, sending the fans into a loud, mocking chant of "Ole Ole Ole" — a staple when the Canadiens are playing well at home.
"It's special," Swayman said of the rivalry. "You really don't understand it until you're on the ice playing in it."
Pezzetta scored his first of the season, beating Swayman with a shot that caromed into the net off the skate of Boston defenseman Connor Clifton, making it 2-1 late in the second period.
But McAvoy slipped a wrister in from the slot for a power-play goal, tying it 2:14 into the third.
"It was nice to get one, but unfortunately it was in a loss, so it doesn't feel good," Pezzetta said.
Both teams came out a bit sluggish Sunday, probably because they each had to travel to Boston after playing Saturday. Armia made it 1-0 by beating Swayman with a wrister from the right circle at the end of a 3-on-1 break 8:09 into the first.
Coming into the game with a 0-2-1 record with a 3.69 goals-against-average and only an .885 save percentage, Montembeault held Boston off the board until McAvoy charged in to score on a rebound 8:27 into the second.
"I thought he had a great game. He played awesome," Pezzetta said of Montembeault. "He made some great saves and kept us in the game. It's definitely not on him."
WHAT HAPPENED THEN
In the last meeting, on Feb. 12, 2020, David Pastrnak recorded a hat trick in a 4-1 Bruins' victory.
NOTES: Montreal recalled G Cayden Primeau from the AHL after top goalie Jake Allen was injured in a collision with Detroit's Dylan Larkin on Saturday night. ... Boston F Craig Smith, who has yet to register a point this season, was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. He was expected to be a big part of the team's second line. ... The Canadiens entered with the league's 29th ranked penalty-killing unit but held Boston scoreless on two full and a partial power play in the opening period.
Canadiens: At the New York Rangers on Tuesday night.
Bruins: At Philadelphia on Saturday night.