MONTREAL -- Carey Price was summoned as the starter for Wednesday’s Game 4, entrusted with saving Montreal from falling into an almost-insurmountable hole against the top-seeded Washington Capitals.
For two periods, Price was delivering on that tall order after Jaroslav Halak, the team’s No. 1 goalie, proved incapable of blunting the Capitals’ high-powered attack during the past two losses.
Price stopped eight of the nine shots he faced in the first period, then stopped the first eight he faced in the second as his team took a one-goal lead. But he could not stop the last shot of the period -- a Mike Knuble dunk on a shorthanded rush with just 6.3 seconds left that changed the whole complexion of the game.
Price then yielded two third-period goals (on 18 shots) to a rejuvenated Capitals team. The Capitals also had two empty-net goals for a 6-3 victory that gives Washington a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-7 series. Price finished with 32 saves in his first playoff start since a loss to Boston in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals last year.
A do-or-die Game 5 is Friday night at the Verizon Center.
Price talked about his performance, the shorthanded goal that changed the game -- and the two unsportsmanlike penalties that he took in the final seconds of Wednesday’s game. On one, he fired the puck at the celebrating Capitals after their fourth goal. On the other, Price, on the bench for an extra attacker, appeared to slash Nicklas Backstrom after he scored Washington’s second empty-net goal.
Question: The little mistakes obviously came back to bite you as well?
Price: That’s playoffs. That’s a big, big key in playoffs. You can’t make mistakes. Usually when you do, it ends up in your net.
Q: Do you feel today the traffic was handled well by everyone?
Price: I think a lot of our guys played really well. I though we did a good job of boxing out, for the most part. They are a team that likes to go to the net and the defense did a pretty good job.
Q: What happened on the (first) unsportsmanlike penalty?
Price: Just frustration. It’s part of hockey though; you let them know you there.
Q: Did you know that the celebration was going on over there?
Price: Yeah. I didn’t mean to hit anyone. It’s over now.
Q: Your outlook on the next game?
Price: Obviously, it is do-or-die for us. We don’t have a choice. We have a lot of character guys in here, and we are not going to go down without fight.
Q: What about that shorthanded goal at the end of the second period?
Price: That gave them a little bit of momentum going into the room, because I thought we carried the play in the second period -- and that one little breakdown winds up in your net and that gives them a breath going into the locker room.
Q: Does anyone shoot the puck as quick as Ovechkin?
Price: Kovalchuk. The puck doesn’t spend much time on their blades; that is why they score so many goals.
Q: The second unsportsmanlike penalty?
Price: Just frustration. It’s part of hockey though; let them know you are there.
Q: Your first start in a while. Are you happy with the way you played?
Price: No. four goals, I’m not pleased. I’m not going to make excuses. I thought I could have played better. You’re that close to playing a great game or an average game.