FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Montreal Forum was the Canadiens’ home for one of the most successful dynasties in professional sports.
The Bruins and Celtics filled the Boston Garden rafters with championship banners.
The Original Six rivals met at the home of the defending Super Bowl champions for the NHL Winter Classic on Friday, and it was the visiting Canadiens and their locally grown goalie who managed to mimic the New England Patriots’ success.
Wearing a mask decorated with a Patriots theme and autographed by their coach and quarterback, Mike Condon stopped 27 shots to help Montreal beat the Bruins 5-1 on Friday at the home of the reigning NFL champions.
"I’m pretty sure anything Tom Brady touches turns to gold," said the Boston-bred goalie whose father is a policeman who works a security detail at Gillette Stadium during Patriots games. "Hopefully got some mojo on my helmet there. I’m a huge fan of his, huge fan of this organization, and I’m just happy to pay respect to them on the ice."
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Paul Byron scored twice, and Brendan Gallagher returned from two broken fingers to score a goal and add an assist. David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty also scored for the Canadiens, who passed Florida and moved into first place in the Atlantic Division with 47 points.
Tuukka Rask stopped 25 shots for the Bruins, and Matt Beleskey scored in the third period to avert the first shutout in Winter Classic history. The four-goal win was the largest for the event since it began in 2008.
Both goalies paid tribute to the Patriots and Brady on their masks, and coach Claude Julien worked the Bruins bench in a hoodie straight from the wardrobe of his NFL counterpart, Bill Belichick.
Condon’s mask had pictures of Brady and Belichick, New England’s four Super Bowl trophies and their motto: "Do your job." The two Patriots icons rewarded his loyalty by signing the backplate for him; Belichick even listed the team’s four championships.
Condon shut out the Bruins for more than two periods, gloving Ryan Spooner’s wrist shot with 0.1 seconds left in the second period to protect a 3-0 lead.
"Anytime a player is coming back home, it’s a special place for him," said Montreal’s Michel Therrien, who also coached Pittsburgh to a win in the inaugural Winter Classic in 2008 and is the first NHL coach to win twice. "And we all are happy about the way he performed."
Rask had Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski on his, along with a scowling minuteman — in black and gold, rather than the red, white and blue colours that the Patriots share with the Canadians.
But the Bruins fell to 0-1 in a building where the Patriots have lost only one meaningful game in three years.
"We definitely feel like we let everybody down," Bruins defenceman Dennis Seidenberg said. "It was such a big buildup. I’m sure everybody in here wanted to come out on the ice with a little bit more jump and bring a little bit better effort. But that wasn’t the case today."
Before a crowd of 67,246 on a cloudy day with the temperature for the opening faceoff at 40 degrees, the teams dodged the slushy ice that has greeted other Winter Classic events, including the old-timers and women’s exhibitions on Thursday. Organizers compensated for the lack of snow in the Boston area so far this winter by spreading white, puffy fabric over the football field.
But they couldn’t account for such a lacklustre effort from the Bruins, who were facing their longtime rival with a chance to take over first place in the Atlantic Division.
The Canadiens had beaten Boston seven straight times before a Bruins victory on Dec. 9, but Montreal had lost 11 of 13 heading into the New Year’s Day game. Gallagher’s return gave the Canadiens a boost and led to their third goal.
With Montreal already ahead 2-0 late in the second period, Pacioretty tipped a floating puck over to Gallagher, who swiped it out of the air and knocked it into the net. After Beleskey scored Boston’s only goal four minutes into the third, Gallagher fed Pacioretty to make it 4-1 with 11 minutes to play.
Byron added his second goal with 92 seconds left to clinch it.
Notes: It was Desharnais’ first goal in 18 games. … Montreal outshot Boston 14-3 in the opening period. The road team has won six of the eight Winter Classics. … Rask took a shot off the shoulder midway through the third period and needed medical attention, but he remained in the game. … Gallagher had not played in 17 games since Nov. 22 because of two broken fingers on his left hand. … The Bruins are the first team to host the Winter Classic twice. The 2010 game was at Fenway Park.