BOSTON -- The NHL's newly added bye week is coming at the worst possible time for the suddenly hot Bruins.
Boston hits the five days of not being allowed on the ice just as the Bruins have responded to a coaching change by sweeping a three-game homestand, capped by a 4-0 victory over the rival Montreal Canadiens on Sunday night.
"I said, 'Well, if you're winning, you don't want the break,'" interim coach Bruce Cassidy said after the Bruins gave him his third straight victory behind the bench. "If you're not, then it's a good time. It is what it is, right?
"I'd rather keep playing, but guys will enjoy themselves."
Tuukka Rask made 25 saves for the first home regular-season win of his career over Montreal, and the Bruins beat the Canadiens at TD Garden for the first time in five years. Boston avoided what would have been a sweep of the four-game season series by the Canadiens.
"I wouldn't call it a statement. I just think we played a great game overall," said Rask, who broke a tie with Frank Brimsek for second place on the club's all-time shutout list with 36.
Rask, who came in 0-9-3 at home against the Canadiens, pitched his sixth shutout of the season as his team beat Montreal in Boston for the first time since Jan. 12, 2012. The Bruins had gone 0-8-1 at home against Montreal since, including a loss in the Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium.
More important, the Bruins kept the roll going under the new coach.
"I hope they're confident," Cassidy said. "They should be."
Winger Peter Cehlarik, playing in only his second NHL game, handed out two assists, and defensemen Adam McQuaid and Zdeno Chara (short-handed) and centers David Krejci and Frank Vatrano scored goals for the Bruins. Krejci added an assist.
Boston (29-23-6) has scored 14 goals in the three games since Cassidy was elevated to replace the fired Claude Julien last Tuesday.
"Without getting too far ahead of ourselves, we'll continue to try and build on it and stay positive," said McQuaid, who played in his 400th NHL game.
Montreal goalie Carey Price stopped 32 shots.
The Canadiens (31-19-8) fell to 1-5-1 in their past seven games while getting shut out for the third time in five games.
"We seem to have lost our identity," Price said.
He fell to 4-9-1 in his past 14 starts. Since starting the season 10-0-0, Price is just 14-14-5. He is 24-9-4 lifetime in the regular season against the Bruins.
Krejci's goal came on the power play, giving Boston 20 power-play goals in the past 18 games.
Cassidy hoped to get his defensemen more involved in the offense, and the Bruins got two goals from the defense on Saturday in a 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks and another two on Sunday.
Chara played a strong game leading the defense.
"He was dialed in," Cassidy said. "He wanted to be out there in all key situations. Joe (Sacco, an assistant coach) was on that end of the bench and said, 'Listen, he wanted to stay out there and eat up minutes.' He was ready to go. When your leaders are leading, playing like that, the other guys get pulled along."
The Bruins, improving to 15-13-0 at home, climbed within six points of first-place Montreal in the Atlantic Division. Boston is tied for second with Ottawa, though the Senators have five games in hand on both teams.
Bruins left wingers Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak both notched assists. Marchand had 13 points in eight games, 27 in 18, while Pastrnak has 10 during a five-game points streak and 15 in the past nine games.
The Canadiens, meanwhile, enter their five-day bye in a slump.
"We're just worried about going into break, trying to rest up, and get ready for when we come back," Montreal left winger Max Pacioretty said. "We've got to come back with a lot of energy, win some games, and it's going to take everybody doing the right thing over the break to take care of their body to make sure that we come back and make a push."
-- With the March 1 trade deadline approaching, Colorado GM Joe Sakic was on hand.
-- RW Brendan Gallagher returned to the Montreal lineup after missing 18 games with a broken hand and played in his 300th NHL game.
-- RW Michael McCarron, who had a fight with Boston's Kevan Miller, was sent to the minors after the game.
-- LW Max Pacioretty has seven goals in the past eight games. The rest of the Montreal forwards have five total during that span.
-- Sunday would have marked Claude Julien's 1000th regular-season game as an NHL coach had he not been fired by Boston last week at 997.
-- D Zdeno Chara's short-handed goal was his first since 2011.
-- Montreal next hosts the Winnipeg Jets on Feb. 18, and the Bruins head west to San Jose on Feb. 19.
-- Sunday night was Chinese Cultural Night at TD Garden.