THE Montreal Canadiens started 2016 off right, dominating the Boston Bruins 5-1 in the NHL’s Winter Classic in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
With the home of the NFL’s New England Patriots transformed for the festive New Year’s Day outdoor game, the Canadiens showed they’re right at home anywhere in the Boston area.
It was just the third victory in 13 games for Montreal — but their eighth straight road win against the Bruins.
Left winger Paul Byron scored twice, right winger Brendan Gallagher, back after missing 17 games with two broken fingers on his left hand, and Max Pacioretty, his left winger, scored a goal apiece — both with assists from centre Tomas Plekanec.
David Desharnais added a goal for the Canadiens who got 27 saves from rookie goalie Mike Condon — who hails from nearby Holliston, Massachusetts.
Boston’s Matt Beleskey tipped one in to spoil Condon’s shutout bid 3:56 into the third period — fitting perhaps in a stadium where the Patriots have never been shut-out in 128 NFL games.
Both goaltenders wore masks that paid tribute to the reigning Super Bowl champion Patriots, and Bruins coach Claude Julien paid tribute to the Pats’ canny coach Bill Belichick by wearing one of Belichick’s favoured hooded sweatshirts.
Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask wore a mask bearing the likenesses of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and teammates Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Stephen Gostkowski.
“We wanted to pay tribute to their success and some of their players,” said Rask, who made 25 saves and kept the Bruins in the game until the second period but fell to 4-15-3 lifetime against Montreal in the regular season.
The game was the eighth edition of the Winter Classic, the outdoor game originally devised by the NHL to celebrate the sport’s roots.
Since the first was held in Buffalo in 2008, the league has expanded it’s outdoor regular-season schedule with the “Stadium Series” of games and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said this week the league plans to continue them.
“There is almost an insatiable appetite for these games,” Bettman said. “These games are on our schedule as we are projecting years out.”