RALEIGH – It’s a familiar story, but Carey Price coming up clutch never gets old.
After winning back-to-back Molson Cup honors for October and November, Price has been making a strong case for a three-peat with his play through the month of December. Suiting up for his 11th
-straight start on Monday night, the 27-year-old netminder has been busy all season, earning his 20th
win of the campaign with a 3-1 victory at PNC Arena – one that required more than a few key saves in the third period in particular.
“It’s the same story every night. We’re used to him bailing us out, but we have to play better in front of him,” stressed Max Pacioretty, who fired the insurance marker into an empty net to seal the win over the Hurricanes with his 14th
goal of the season. “We love that he’s playing so well, but in this room, we all know we owe him a couple of games and a lot of goals. Hopefully down the road we can do that for him, but he’s the story every night. He’s the MVP tonight.”
Currently sitting fifth in the league with a .928 save percentage through 30 games played this season, Price is enjoying his stingiest season to date, also owning a career-best 2.19 goals-against average so far in 2014-15. Seeing his padded teammate come through when the team needs him most is no surprise to Pacioretty, who has had a front row seat for Price’s heroics since the new assistant captain broke in with the Habs in 2008-09.
“I can sit here and say the same thing about him every game. It’s not like he’s improving in one area or he’s got areas to improve. He’s rock solid every single night,” praised Pacioretty, who led the team with six shots against Carolina “Every night we know we’ve got Carey backing us up and we have to be better for him. Hopefully that time comes where we can steal a game for him.”
Earning first star status with his 28-save performance – including a 13-shot onslaught in the final frame – Price has now allowed two or fewer goals in his last seven starts, having given up just nine goals in that span. True to form, the three-time All-Star couldn’t deflect the praise fast enough after the game.
“The guys are playing extremely well in front of me, especially tonight,” said Price, who has faced 897 shots this season, second in the league behind only Cory Schneider in that category. “I left a lot of rebounds out there in front of the net and guys were sagging down into the house and doing a great job around the net. You have to attribute all that success to them.
“I’ve said this before, but I think the shot count is not always reflective of the game,” he added, having been outshot 29-19 in the outing. “They got a few shots in the third period, but the majority of those shots weren’t top quality chances. I have to give my teammates credit for that.”
For their part, Price’s teammates have no interest in basking in any of their star netminder’s reflected glory, happy to make sure he gets all the credit he deserves for the Canadiens’ current home near the top of the division.
“He’s being modest. That’s one of the things about Carey: he’s an absolute superstar, but he’s a very humble person and very modest. That’s one of the reasons he’s so well liked in this room,” underlined Lars Eller, who scored the 21,000th
goal in franchise history on Monday, which also held up as the game winner against the ‘Canes. “He’s so poised and confident and he makes the difference for us in so many games between winning and losing. He did that again tonight.” Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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