"There were too many to stop."

That was Jacques Martin's succinct summary of the Canadiens' 8-6 loss to the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night.

"It was a question of not being alert in the defensive zone and allowing too many odd-man rushes," Martin said after the Canadiens surrendered a season-high eight goals. "This certainly wasn't the game I expected.

"I thought we showed a lot of character and battled to the end. We scored a lot of goals, but we couldn't find a way to keep them out of the net," Martin said.

Battle was a good way to describe the game between the Northeast Division rivals. Two hours after the game, the off-ice officials were still trying to produce the final statistics for the game. The unofficial totals showed 182 penalty minutes with 14 fighting majors and four game misconducts.

At one point, there were six players from each team in the penalty boxes.

"I think it's been since Juniors that I've seen so many guys in the penalty box," said Boston's Milan Lucic. "I think as players we all had fun with tonight's game and I think the fans had fun watching the game."

There was a rare fight between goaltenders when Carey Price and Tim Thomas squared off, but it failed to produce a single punch.

The highly competitive Price didn't seem as upset as he usually is after a loss.

"It was pretty open at both ends," he said. "It was just old time hockey really, going end-to-end and scrapping it out. It was actually pretty fun to play in; it's just the end result was not what we were looking for."

"It's always passionate and it's always emotional when we play each other," said Canadiens captain Brian Gionta, who scored his 200th NHL goal. "Obviously, today was a big game with a lot of points in line, important points."

Gionta said the key to the wide-open game was the first period when the Bruins scored the only two goals in a 13-second span.