MONTREAL – The Habs have returned to their stingy defensive ways, thanks in no small part to their All-World netminder.
Having previously given up 14 goals in a three-game span to the Canucks, Flames, and Blackhawks, the Canadiens have returned to more familiar goals-against numbers in the last three outings. Allowing just three goals in the past three nights, the team has unsurprisingly also racked up three consecutive wins in that stretch, including a 3-0 blanking of the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night.
Earning his first shutout of the season with a 29-save performance against Winnipeg, Carey Price made one highlight-reel save after another to help maintain a one-goal lead for the majority of the night, earning first star status for his efforts.
“Pricey was spectacular for us, as usual,” confirmed Tomas Plekanec, who is now tied for second in the NHL for shorthanded goals after firing his second of the year into an empty net on a 4-on-6 penalty kill to close out the game. “It wasn’t a perfect game for us, obviously. We had some problems executing our plays. At the end of the day, we managed to score three goals, so that’s a good sign. We talked about the fact that good offense comes from good defense. I thought we did a better job doing that and Pricey did a good job of taking care of anything we didn’t do well.”
With the 26th
shutout of his career, Price now sits just three shy of Patrick Roy for fifth all-time in Canadiens history in that category. Although, as one of his blue line buddies was quick to point out, the All-Star netminder was lucky his shots against total finished at 29, not 30.
“Our goalie? Yeah he's really good. He's the best in the world. But I just want to point out that he didn’t make that last save on [Evander] Kane. It was deflected by [Andrei] Markov – [Carey] is trying to take all the credit,” joked Mike Weaver of Markov’s quick stick work to deflect Kane’s shot out of play instead of into the wide open Canadiens net. “No, Carey is there for every single key save. I mean, I can’t score on him in practice, so that really hurts my self-esteem but he’s able to stop the best goal scorers out there.”
Having been spoiled by one clutch goaltending performance after another since joining the Habs last March, Weaver admits he and his teammates almost expect to see the Olympic gold medalist earn first star honors on a near-nightly basis.
“Kind of yeah. You just assume he’s going to be playing that well every game,” admitted the 36-year-old rearguard, who chipped in with two blocked shots and an assist on Lars Eller’s opening goal on Tuesday night. “You still want to limit the shots and limit their opportunities and I think we did a pretty good job with that.
“Before the game we were going over how many goals they scored in the first compared to the second and third and they really come out strong,” added Weaver of the Jets, who have scored 14 first period goals, but just 13 in the second and third periods combined. “We had to focus on our game, and having Carey back there to make the big saves obviously helps out.”
Managing to stave off a few clear scoring opportunities against to skate to the first intermission tied at zero apiece, the Habs came out in the second with an early goal and let their All-Star netminder take care of the rest – not that Price was willing to take any credit for the shutout victory after the game.
“It was a total team effort, as usual,” he stressed. “[Markov’s save] was big for me, personally. He never gave up on the play and he found a way to get his stick on it.
“Confidence is a funny thing. It’s a progress every day and a good play here or there goes a long way,” added Price. “It was good to get [a shutout]. Obviously we needed the win first and foremost, but that’s just icing on the cake.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com
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