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.
For the NHL Winter Classic, the Original Six foes found a worthy venue to extend their rivalry.
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With the New England Patriots’ logo and the image of their four Super Bowl trophies adorning his mask, Bostonian Mike Condon stopped 27 shots to lead Montreal to a 5-1 victory over the Bruins on Friday at the home of the reigning NFL champions.
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 quarterback Tom 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.
But the Bruins fell to 0-1 in a building where the Patriots have lost only one meaningful game in three years.
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 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 lackluster 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. The return of Brendan Gallagher, who missed 17 games with two broken fingers on his right hand, 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 1:32 left to clinch it.
Condon, a native of the Boston suburb of Needham, decorated the back of his mask with a sketch of Brady, the Patriots’ four Super Bowl trophies and their motto: “Do your job.” Rask had Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski on his.
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.