Thomas after his fight/By S. Bradley

This post is part of a series looking back at the top 10 games of the Bruinsā€™ 2010-11 regular season.

It’s no secret that regardless of whether the Bruins went on to the Stanley Cup championship or not, Feb. 9, 2011 was going to go down as one of the regular-season games people talk about for decades after.

That the Bruins not only went on to win the Cup, but started their run to the title with a series victory over Montreal, now makes that evening even more magical. That’s why not only does the Bruins’ 8-6 victory over the Habs win the top spot on the top 10 list of best regular-season games as picked by TheBruinsBlog.net, but readers of this blog also voted that contest the game of the year.

What was your favorite game of the Bruins' 2010-11 regular season?

  • Feb. 9 beat Montreal; 182 PIM & Horton 5 pts. (57%, 58 Votes)
  • March 24 beat Montreal; Campbell 3-on-5 G (30%, 30 Votes)
  • Dec. 23 beat Atlanta; Thornton 2 goals & fight (7%, 7 Votes)
  • Feb. 26 beat Vancouver; Lucic GWG in 3-pt. game (6%, 6 Votes)

Total Voters: 101

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Although a week earlier the Bruins won a thrilling, fight-filled showdown with Dallas, their momentum was stopped in a lackluster 2-0 loss to San Jose just two days after the Stars victory. Just 2:22 into the Montreal game, it was difficult to tell if the Bruins had regained their legs, as Tim Thomas had to flash his right pad to stop a David Desharnais point-blank scoring chance to keep the game scoreless.

The Bruins awoke later in the period, as Brad Marchand scored with 6:44 left in the stanza and Dennis Seidenberg followed with a goal just 12 seconds later.

The second period was a whirlwind, with eight goals scored — four by each team. Brian Gionta and P.K. Subban scored to tie the game. Adam McQuaid put Boston ahead, but then Yannick Weber tied the score. Michael Ryder and Milan Lucic then scored to give the Bruins a two-goal lead before the fireworks of a different kind began.

In what had already been a physical contest featuring a lot of trash talk, pushing and shoving, Marchand set off the dynamite with a big, late hit on James Wisniewski with 12:36 elapsed in the second period. Gionta jumped Marchand and the first scrum of the night unfolded, highlighted by (or lowlighted) Thomas and Carey Price briefly “fighting” like two sumo wrestlers.

Desharnais cashed in on the subsequent power play to cut Boston’s lead to 5-4, but Lucic scored again for a 6-4 lead.

A Nathan Horton tripping penalty early in the third period, the forward’s second of three minors in the game, led to Max Pacioretty’s power-play goal and a 6-5 Bruins lead. Ryder scored his second goal of the night and Horton then scored his first of the evening before things began to come apart at the seams.

A Horton shove of Subban after an offsides led to one melee, which featured Benoit Pouliot using David Krejci’s head as a punching bag with 2:54 left. Only 32 minutes in penalties were handed out after that outburst.

With 40.5 seconds left, the real eruption occurred. Everyone squared off and Andrew Ference pounded Travis Moen, while Shawn Thornton, Gregory Campbell and Johnny Boychuk destroyed Roman Hamrlik, Tom Pyatt and Jaroslav Spacek, respectively. After the game, Montreal personnel and fans rightly pointed out that the Bruins weren’t exactly beating up on experienced fighters. But replays show that the likes of Hamrlik and Spacek weren’t exactly innocent in the starting of the fights.

Before the game was over, McQuaid had to go after Pacioretty, who had slewfooted Steven Kampfer and wound up scoring one last goal with just 13.9 seconds left. Pacioretty’s actions would become even more controversial later in the year.

When the dust settled on Boston’s 8-6 win, 182 minutes in penalties had been handed out. Horton finished with a career-best five points (and a plus-5 rating) and 12 different Bruins registered at least one point.

This game was as close as a modern-day match-up could come reigniting the type of emotion that used to be an every-night presence back in the Original Six days. It was a defining night for the eventual Cup champions and a game that will go down in history as the best of the team’s regular-season run.