"I just Bill Bucknered it," said Price comparing himself to the Red Sox's 1986 World Series goat when explaining the only goal he gave up in a 2-1 win over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Thursday night. "I took my eyes off the puck for a half second and it went right through me."
The goal in question actually came off the stick of his teammate Tomas Plekanec after a clean faceoff win to Price's right. Patrice Bergeron lost the draw but was credited with the goal. Luckily for the Habs, it was the only puck to elude Price all night, as he made 29 saves on 30 shots in Montreal's second win in as many nights. The teams meet again Saturday at the Bell Centre.
While Price's baseball reference might bring back horrible memories for Boston fans, the way the Bruins are playing is giving coach Claude Julien equally painful feelings. The Bruins have lost two in a row and with a 3-6-0 record they sit last in the Eastern Conference -- just four months removed from their first Stanley Cup championship in 39 years.
"I'd probably get nightmares thinking about how we're playing right now more than anything else," Julien said when asked about looking up at the rest of the East at this point in the season. "It's more about our team right now. I don't care where we are in the standings. What I care about is how we play, and right now, we're not playing at all to the level we should be."
That the Bruins missed numerous scoring chances, including a Rich Peverley breakaway, and scored their goal only because of a Montreal miscue was just one source of Julien's postgame frustration.
"No. 1, the inability to focus for 60 minutes is pretty obvious and apparent," he said. "When you play the way you do the first period and seem to be heading in the right direction, then come out in the second period and play that way, it certainly shows a lack of focus, and what that translated to was a lack of execution. It just kind of follows suit, and your game gets worse and worse. That's what we're going through right now. Unfortunately, we're not sitting here looking at one or two players you can move around. You're looking at the majority of the team. That's where the issue is, and this is what we have to find a way to correct."
A couple of days ago, it was Montreal that was looking for ways to right its ship. The turnaround started Wednesday night with a 5-1 home win over Philadelphia. The strong play continued on the road against archrival Boston, as the Habs shook off the Bruins' fluke goal and rallied with a tying goal by Erik Cole 10:27 into the second and a go-ahead goal by Plekanec 10:46 into the third.
"We've got a lot of character in this room," said Price, who helped the Habs improve to 3-5-2. "We all said it before, we weren't in any panic, we knew we had the talent in this room to win hockey games. So right now it's just getting back to the basics. It's kind of cliché but it's true. We just keep things simplified out there and it's been working out for us."
Plekanec's goal came as a result of some of the Bruins' sloppiness. Adam McQuaid couldn't connect with Patrice Bergeron on a breakout pass, and the Habs transitioned from defense to offense. Plekanec's first offering was blocked by McQuaid, but the Montreal center followed up his own shot and beat Tim Thomas (33 saves) with a wrist shot inside the far post from the right-wing side.
"It was great. It was a great play by our defense back there and a nice one-touch to me and then I got a lucky break," Plekanec said. "After the first shot the puck stayed in his feet and I was able to grab it and put it in the net. It was a good time for us. We fought through it -- it was a great effort."
The Bruins have scored just three goals in their last two games, including the one Plekanec put in his own net. It seems every game the Bruins don't have things go their way early on, they get frustrated and can't climb out of early holes.
"We're not playing our game as well as we can," Peverley said. "It shows on our record and we kind of have a bull's-eye on our back and we've got to be better."