VANCOUVER - Carey Price couldn't have asked for a better homecoming in his return to British Columbia on Tuesday night.
With family and friends aplenty in attendance at Rogers Arena, the 29-year-old netminder turned aside 27 of 28 shots against in a 2-1 overtime win over the Vancouver Canucks.
It marked the Canadiens' sixth consecutive victory - and upped their record under head coach Claude Julien to 7-2-0 in the process - as Price reached the 30-win plateau for the fourth time in his career.
Willie Desjardins' club simply couldn't get one by the five-time All-Star until forward Michael Chaput tied things up with 7:11 remaining in regulation time, but Price would stymie them the rest of the way after that, giving his club a chance to end things in the extra frame.
"I'd say "Wow!" when I had him at the Olympics with Team Canada, but now I have the chance to say "Wow!" way more often than that. He's a good goaltender. He gives our team so much confidence," praised Julien, whose starter has now won five consecutive starts. "It's important for our team to know that if they make a mistake, you have a good goaltender that is going to stop the puck 99 percent of the time."
Video: MTL@VAN: Price stretches to rob Goldobin with a pad
On this night, the Anahim Lake, BC native received his offensive support in the form of secondary scoring from the likes of Torrey Mitchell, who snapped a 39-game goal drought with his eighth goal of the season just under four minutes into the opening frame, and Paul Byron, who settled things 73 seconds into OT with his fifth game-winner of the season - and second deciding tally in the last three games.
"It's nice to see guys get rewarded. The effort has been there. The chances have been there. Get a couple of bounces and hopefully we get everyone rolling now," said captain Max Pacioretty following the Canadiens' 38th win of the season, which has them sitting six points clear of the Ottawa Senators atop the Atlantic Division. "We've been going well here for a couple of games. We've got everyone on board. I think those bounces are what it's going to take to snap out of those mini slumps. Everyone feels good about their game right now."
Like Pacioretty, Julien was pleased to see the offense being spread around as the Canadiens' all-important Western swing got underway, before moving on to Calgary and Edmonton.
"Seeing different players score goals is encouraging for us. We don't always have to count on the same guys. We had a solid effort from the first line to the fourth line and the first pair to the third pair of defensemen," praised Julien. "When you have an effort like that, it means that different guys are stepping up and standing out."
Video: Byron lifts Habs past Canucks in OT, 2-1
Speaking of defensemen, Brandon Davidson certainly enjoyed his Canadiens debut, logging 14:40 of ice time playing alongside Jeff Petry - and coming out on the right side of the scoresheet in the end, of course. The 25-year-old rearguard made sure to soak up everything about the experience of playing in front of a huge contingent of Habs fans who definitely made their voices heard with "Go Habs Go" and "Carey! Carey! Carey!" chants early and often.
"It was good. I really enjoyed it. I think the fans here really made it special. It was exciting to have the chants and stuff here, too. I'm glad to get my feet wet again. I definitely want to keep moving forward. There's a lot more I have to give, but it was a good first start," shared Davidson, who hadn't seen game action since February 24, when he was still a member of the Edmonton Oilers. "[The rink was] crazy, actually. I didn't know it was going to be like that. It was a little bit of a surprise, for sure."
It wasn't much of a surprise to Price, though, who relished the chance to ply his trade in his home province and ultimately got the job done.
"It's always cool to come home to BC. I love it here," concluded Price. "It's always nice to come home."
Video: Carey Price on playing on home soil