MONTREAL – When your goaltender posts a shutout and still only earns third star honors, you know you’ve got a good thing going.
Carey Price stopped all 31 Hurricanes shots on Thursday night, earning his eighth shutout of the season while bolstering his already league-leading goals-against average (1.89) and save percentage (.937) in the process. Despite putting his usual heroics on display between the pipes against Carolina, it was the team’s gritty supporting cast who really stole the show.
“It’s really nice to see those guys who log a lot of hard minutes for us all season long start getting rewarded on the scoresheet,” said Price of some of the team’s unsung heroes, who are making a case to snap their star goalie’s five consecutive Molson Cup win streak. “They’ve really battled for us all season long and there isn’t a group of guys who deserve it more than them.”
Helping Price preserve his goose egg late in the third period, Tom Gilbert even took a shot off the chin to keep the puck out of the net – something that didn’t go unnoticed by the All-Star netminder.
“We had a couple of guys like Prusty [Brandon Prust] and Gilbert who laid it out there and blocked shots. They’re willing to block shots with a minute left in a 4-0 game. There’s no real need to do that other than trying to get a shutout,” shared Price, who sits fifth all-time on the franchise’s shutout leaderboard with 33 in his career. “I’m really grateful to have teammates who are that special.”
In addition to keeping pucks out of the Canadiens’ net, the line of Prust, Dale Weise and Manny Malhotra have also been doing their part to light opposing lamps of late. Combining for seven points between them in the last two games, the trio has helped rekindle the offensive spark that seemed to be fizzling out during a 2-4-2 run to start the month.
“We can’t just rely on our top two lines or our power play to score goals. We need all four lines to score,” stressed Weise, who scored his 10th of the season to open the scoring in the first period. “That’s the way we’re going to score. Prusty, Manny and I want to play fast and get pucks in the zone and just outwork teams. We’re going to have a lot of success if we play like that.
“That one felt good tonight,” he continued. “But we need to see some consistency before we start patting each other on the back.”
Having played a pivotal role in the last two wins, helping turn around a tough stretch early this month with his play on the ice and his leadership in the room, Prust likes the way his team has responded to some late-season adversity. With just 10 games left in the regular season, he’s hoping things continue trending in that direction down the stretch.
“Our lines are clicking. We’ve got some confidence and we’re keeping it simple out there,” explained the 31-year-old forward, who had an assist and finished with a plus-3 differential against Carolina. “We’re chipping pucks in deep, we’re supporting each other, we’re talking a lot on the bench and most of all, we’re having fun. When you’re having fun out there, you seem to play a little better.
“You can’t just ride your top lines because they’ll get exhausted. You have to be able to count on four lines,” he added. “We’ve won two [in a row]. Now we have to try to make it three, make it four, make it five in a row. We want to make sure we’re going into the playoffs playing our best hockey.”Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
This kid's got it all
Ready and willing