BOSTON – If Carey Price
can play every game of the 2011 postseason the way he played Game 1, the Canadiens will be just fine.
Searching for his first playoff win since 2008, Price left nothing to chance against the No.3 Bruins, shutting the door on the league’s best 5-on-5 team in the process. Despite kicking aside all 31 Bruins shots thrown his way on Thursday night, the 23-year-old netminder was more impressed about the number of shots he didn’t have to face.
“I could mention everybody on the hockey team from Andrei Kostitsyn to Brent Sopel; everybody was sacrificing their bodies for the team,” marveled Price at the 19 shots his teammates threw themselves in front of in Game 1. “I let them know every time they block a shot. If we have guys willing to sacrifice their bodies to keep the puck out of the net, I’ll let them know because that’s encouraging for our hockey team.”
With his third career playoff shutout, clutch, record-setting performances all season and now a thank you wink directed at Sopel after a particularly big block, Price seems to be channeling his inner Patrick Roy more than ever these days.
“Carey played the way Carey always plays. He’s made huge saves for us. He saves my behind and I tried to do the same thing for him,” explained Sopel, who tied James Wisniewski for the team lead with four blocks. “We’re a team; we do it together. He saves us and he made some huge saves tonight so anytime I can block a shot to save a goal, I will and he does the same thing. It’s a team effort.”
Price couldn’t agree more. Earning first star status for his night’s work, the Anahim Lake, BC native couldn’t wait to share the spotlight with the 22 other players in the Habs room.
“Really, I’m just working with my defensemen – we’ve had good chemistry all year,” understated the four-year NHL veteran. “All I do is try to make the first save and they’ve done a really good job of getting to the rebounds, boxing guys out and blocking shots.”
Having cut his teeth in the NHL in New Jersey alongside future Hall-of-Famer Martin Brodeur, Brian Gionta
knows good goaltending when he sees it. Price might not have been in the mood to boast after the game, but his captain was more than willing to do it for him.
“Carey did a great job keeping us in it tonight. With all the saves he made, he kept it a 1-0 game the whole night. He gave us a chance to win just as he’s done all year. He definitely led the charge for us,” praised Gionta, who scored both of the Canadiens’ goals against the Bruins. “That’s just what he does. It allowed us to be patient and anytime we made a mistake, he was there to back us up.
“Carey was a huge reason we won tonight,” underlined the 32-year-old winger. “We did a good job keeping them to the outside but we still gave them too many chances and he did a great job stopping the first and second opportunities.”
After seeing Boston lead the league with 178 even-strength goals this season, getting out of the second period despite being outshot 18-6 was the turning point for Price.
“They’re a good hockey team and when they grabbed the momentum like that, they definitely ran with it,” described Price, who also helped kill off all three Bruins’ power play opportunities. “Guys were blocking shots and kept it simple and we were fortunate to keep the puck out of the net.”
The puck stayed out of the net, but based on the game plan Price and his teammates had coming into the game, fortune likely had very little to do with it.
“We were playing patient. It’s not our rink so we don’t have to put on a show or anything,” he explained. “We just had to keep it simple and play simple, road hockey. We came here with a goal to come out with a good start in the game and a good start in the series and we did that tonight.”Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
Postgame comments: Sopel
The Numbers Game - April 14, 2011 BoxscorePut on your game face