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Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:47 AM

John Kreiser - Columnist

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Montréal Canadiens vs. Boston Bruins

The firing of assistant coach Perry Pearn seemed to ignite the Montreal Canadiens.

Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli believes renewing a rivalry with Montreal could be just what the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins need to get going.

The visiting Canadiens and Bruins meet for the first time since last season's memorable first-round postseason matchup in the opener of a home-and-home set Thursday night.

Montreal entered Wednesday with just one win in its first eight games - its worst start in 70 years. In an effort to shake things up, Pearn, who was responsible for running the power play, was released from the team prior to Wednesday night's game against Philadelphia.

The Canadiens (2-5-2) seemed to get the message.

Michael Cammalleri, Andrei Kostitsyn and Yannick Weber each scored while Max Pacioretty added two goals and an assist during Montreal's 5-1 victory over the Flyers.

"It was a big shock to all the players. We didn't see it coming at all," Pacioretty said of Pearn's release. "When things are not going your way you've got to mix things up and it kind of sent a message to the players that they're willing to do what it takes to win hockey games.

"We've got to bear down at a time like this and do what we can to win."

Carey Price, who has started all but one game this season, also came up big, making 21 saves.

"We needed to get that one," Price said. "It was a tough stretch there, honestly. It was pretty tough mentally on everybody so we're just glad to have that over with and at least we have a chance to get right back into it (Thursday) night (in Boston). Hopefully we can continue what we did (Wednesday)."

The Canadiens now look for their momentum to carry over as they visit TD Garden for the first time since losing Game 7 of the conference quarterfinals, 4-3 in overtime.

Thursday also marks Pacioretty's first meeting with Boston since he sustained a concussion and cracked vertebra on a hit by Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara during a 4-1 Canadiens victory March 8, ending his 2010-11 season.

While Montreal will certainly be up for this game, Chiarelli is hoping Boston will too.

"Certainly that comes to mind when I look at the schedule," Chiarelli told the team's official website.

"We've got enough games that, for whatever reason, motivate us ... I would hope that that would be the case against Montreal. They're rivals, we've had some real good games and series with them and all that history last year."

Boston, which fell to 3-5-0 with a 4-2 loss to San Jose on Saturday, didn't suffer its fifth regulation loss last season until Nov. 13.

Milan Lucic tallied a goal and an assist against the Sharks, giving him five points in his last two games. Reigning Vezina and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Tim Thomas turned away 26 of 29 shots.

"We want to get into a rhythm," Thomas said. "We haven't been able to get wins back-to-back this year. Some of that is because of the teams that we're playing against. We're playing good teams."

Thomas is 3-3-0 despite a solid 2.16 goals-against average. He's gone 10-3-1 with a 2.03 GAA and one shutout over his last 14 home meetings with the Canadiens - including playoffs.

Price is 0-2-0 with a 7.47 GAA during his last two regular-season visits to Boston. He'll look to slow down center Tyler Seguin, who leads the Bruins with six assists and nine points.

2011-2012 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Feb 15 '12 BOS 4 at MTL 3 - SO T. Seguin
Jan 12 '12 MTL 1 at BOS 2 M. Lucic
Dec 19 '11 MTL 2 at BOS 3 B. Marchand
Nov 21 '11 BOS 1 at MTL 0 A. Ference
Oct 29 '11 BOS 2 at MTL 4 D. Desharnais
Oct 27 '11 MTL 2 at BOS 1 T. Plekanec
M. Pacioretty10459+3600
T. Plekanec10347+0612
A. Kostitsyn10336+1601
D. Desharnais10156+0200
J. Gorges10066+5800
T. Moen10415+21700
B. Gionta10145+0800
Y. Weber10224+6620
E. Cole10224-2610
M. Cammalleri7303-2000
R. Diaz10123+0600
P. Subban10033-31900
L. Eller8022+3200
J. Spacek5022+2000
M. Darche10101+0200
H. Gill10011-3600
P. Nokelainen8011-1200
S. Gomez6011-1400
A. Engqvist7000+1200
A. Emelin6000-2200
A. Palushaj4000+0000
M. Blunden3000+0000
C. Campoli1000+0000
C. Price93-4-2242332.66.897
P. Budaj10-1-02312.03.935
T. Seguin9369+7400
M. Lucic9246+21400
C. Kelly9235+4701
P. Bergeron9235+1410
R. Peverley9314-1210
B. Marchand9224+12910
N. Horton9224-22210
A. Ference9044-1000
Z. Chara9123+12910
J. Corvo9033-4200
J. Boychuk9022+11000
A. McQuaid4022+0200
D. Paille9101-3001
D. Krejci6101-5000
D. Seidenberg9011-5800
S. Kampfer2011+2000
G. Campbell9000-3700
S. Thornton9000-41000
B. Pouliot8000-3400
J. Caron4000-2000
M. Bartkowski3000-2000
T. Thomas73-4-0152102.14.929
T. Rask20-2-05592.52.915