MONTREAL – Carey Price and Brian Gionta turned in huge performances to snap the Habs’ slump and sweep their season series with the Lightning.
After facing their first real taste of adversity in 2012-13, the Habs got back to their winning ways in Montreal, besting Steven Stamkos and the third highest scoring team in the NHL in the Tampa Bay Lightning. Far from a blowout victory, the Canadiens saw both sides of the coin on Thursday night, enjoying a few bounces in their favor and shaking off a few others that certainly weren’t, as stellar nights from Carey Price and Brian Gionta powered the team back into second place in the Eastern Conference.
“The way things have been going the last few games, it took a lot of character to stick with that game and battle through. When you go through rough patches, it’s easy to lose your confidence, but we stuck with it,” said Gionta, referring to the Habs’ two-goal lead slipping away before a power play marker with 47 seconds left on the clock locked up the win for the home team.
“It’s always good when you get the win. It will give us a little bit of confidence,” added Gionta, who enjoyed a two-goal night, including the last-minute game-winner. “It’s something we were looking for and it’s a step in the right direction but we still had to clean up some things to get the two points and the win. Carey kept us in it with some big saves and he gave us a chance to win tonight.”
Unanimously in support of their starting goaltender, postgame, the Habs had nothing but praise for Price, who fought through his share of tough moments and bounces to produce some spectacular saves on the night, including a possible candidate for save of the year.
“We weren’t worried about Pricer. We knew he was going to come and play his game tonight and that’s exactly what he did,” shared Brendan Gallagher on Price’s bounce-back outing. “There were a couple of times in the game where it looked like he was down and out but he was able to come back and make a big save for us. On the bench, that lifts us, it gives us energy and he was huge for us tonight.”
It’s no secret the Canadiens were less than impressed with their recent performances, and perhaps none of them more so than Price. There was a definite air of relief surrounding the 25-year-old netminder following the key win as he spoke candidly about the past week.
“It can be nerve-wracking to be a goaltender here, but at the same time I’ve had a lot of experience now dealing with these types of situations,” said Price, who finished his night having turned aside 32 of 34 shots, including a handful of highlight reel saves to propel the Habs to their third win of the season over Tampa Bay. “It was obviously a bit of a tough week when you get 18 goals scored on you in three games, but you have to keep battling through it. I talked to my dad about it and he said that you just have to keep pushing; there’s no other shortcut. If there was, somebody would have figured it out by now – the only way is to keep working.
“Dwelling on the negatives isn’t going to help you very much and being able to battle through those types of situations is what made us so successful at the beginning of the year,” added Price, “Goaltending is a weird position. Sometimes your team bails you out and sometimes you bail your team out. Tonight, we did a bit of both.”
With 59 points in the bank and a healthy boost of confidence, the Habs will look to keep the positives rolling on Saturday night when the Washington Capitals come calling at the Bell Centre.Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com
Game Highlights: Canadiens-Lightning
The Numbers Game – April 18, 2013