VANCOUVER - Carey Price wasn't interested in any of the obvious storylines after a big win in his home province.
The Montreal Canadiens' goalie didn't want to talk about his 39-save performance in a 4-1 win against the Vancouver Canucks. He wasn't interested in discussing the fans chanting his name, or winning a Canadian Olympic crease showdown with Roberto Luongo.
All that mattered to Price was the victory.
"Everybody is trying to twist this another way. All it was is two hockey teams playing against each other," Price said after taking a rare visitor victory lap as the game's First Star. "I don't want to accept all the credit. We played an excellent third period, our special teams played really well, we blocked a ton of shots - it was a complete effort by everybody."
Everybody else, however, pointed back to Price - and a fluke shorthanded goal that became the game-winner - as the difference.
"Wow," said Lars Eller, who was credited with the shorthanded winner despite almost being back on the bench when the Canucks put the puck into their own net. "It's probably the best hockey I've seen [Price] play, and that says a lot. He kept us in the game. I don't know how. Halfway through, two periods through, he has the single reason that we were even this game. Unbelievable performance."
Eller's tie-breaking goal was even harder to believe.
Eller was the last player to touch the puck on a dump-in while killing a penalty, but there wasn't a Montreal player below the hash marks when Dan Hamhuis lost it off the skate of Jason Garrison near the goal line to the left of Roberto Luongo. The goalie had his back to play as the puck bounced off both his skates and trickled over the goal line with Hamhuis, filling in for suspended defenseman Alex Edler on the power play, fishing for it.
"I didn't see it. I didn't see it," said a visibly frustrated Luongo. "They didn't show it on the Jumbotron. You guys tell me what happened. I don't even know what happened. I left it for our guys and was looking up ice to get back to my net and all of a sudden it's in the back of my net."
Asked if he'd ever given up a more bizarre game-winner, Luongo said, "I didn't give that up, so I can't tell you."
Tomas Plekanec opened the scoring on a power play 5:43 into the game, and Max Pacioretty made it 3-1 on Montreal's second power-play chance 6:46 into the third. They were the first two extra-man goals surrendered by the Canucks after 18 straight penalty kills to start the season.
Defenseman Josh Gorges, who like Price was playing in his home province, rounded out the scoring on a point shot through traffic with 7:35 left as Montreal won its second straight on a four-game Western Canadian road trip that ends Tuesday against the Winnipeg Jets.
But after playing without captain Brian Gionta, who was attending to a family issue back in Montreal, all the Canadiens could talk about after was Price, who saw 31 shots through the first 40 minutes.
"Seems like [Price] was the only guy who showed up early in the game so it's nice to reward him with a win like that," said Pacioretty, who was stopped on a penalty shot 1:30 into the third period. "We wish we could have got him a shutout for how well he played."
Price may have dismissed coming home, but his coach didn't.
"He was outstanding," Michel Therrien said. "Certainly it was extra motivation to play in front of his family and friends. I'm really happy for him that he was able to play that way. He was in the zone."
Henrik Sedin scored the lone goal and Luongo finished 34 saves for the Canucks, who never seemed to recover from the own goal.
The way Price was playing, it may not have mattered.
The Canucks had several great chances to tie it while outshooting the Canadiens 14-9 in the opening period, but Price made a couple of outstanding rebound saves to keep Montreal ahead. He slid right to left and extended his glove over his pad to take an empty net away from Garrison on a power play midway through the period, and scrambled to his right to get a piece of a similar Daniel Sedin chance with five minutes left in the first, prompting chants of "Carey, Carey" from a crowd littered with red, white and blue Canadiens jerseys.
"Just desperation, trying to battle and get a piece of it," Price said.
Luongo responded with a couple of excellent stops off David Desharnais five minutes into the second, but Price answered that with five stops on a Vancouver power play before the Canucks finally tied it.
"He was awesome," Daniel Sedin said. "He made some saves where I think a lot of people in the building thought it was going to be goals, so he played great and we have to bear down when we get the chances."
Vancouver didn't generate many opportunities after Hamhuis put it in his own net.
"I was picking up the puck and it just clipped Jason's skate and ended up in Lu's feet and in the net," Hamhuis said. "It's a tough break."
The Canucks didn't even manage a shot the first half of the third period, dropping the final two games of a three-game homestand as they prepare to hit the road for the next seven games.
"It's bizarre," Garrison said. "A lot of unfortunate bounces sometimes and you have to get by it. It felt like we had momentum."
There was none after the goal, as Montreal finally tightened up.
"We just had to weather the storm the first couple periods," Price said. "We got lucky along the way and in the third we shut them down."
|PPG - Max Pacioretty (2) ASST: Francis Bouillon (1), Raphael Diaz (2)|
1 - 0 MTL
|Henrik Sedin (1) ASST: Daniel Sedin (5), Jason Garrison (4)|
1 - 1 Tie
|SHG - Lars Eller (5) ASST: NONE|
2 - 1 MTL
|PPG - Tomas Plekanec (1) ASST: Andrei Markov (2), P.K. Subban (6)|
3 - 1 MTL
|Josh Gorges (1) ASST: Raphael Diaz (3), Travis Moen (2)|
4 - 1 MTL
|Christopher Tanev Hooking against Max Pacioretty|
|Lars Eller Holding against David Booth|
|P.K. Subban Interference against David Booth|
|Jarred Tinordi Interference against Jannik Hansen|
|Dan Hamhuis Interference against Lars Eller|
|Daniel Sedin Tripping against Alex Galchenyuk|