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Vezina favorite Price elevating game for Canadiens

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

NHL.com - With three-quarters of the 2014-15 season complete, NHL.com looks at some of the biggest storylines and award contenders.

The Montreal Canadiens won their fourth straight game Saturday and are building on their lead atop the Atlantic Division. One could make a strong case their goaltender is the biggest reason why.

Carey Price has been sensational all season long and was named the NHL's Second Star for the month of February after going 9-1-1 with a 1.34 goals-against average and .949 save percentage in 11 games. He closed out the month by shutting out the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 4-0 win at Bell Centre on Saturday when he made 30 saves.

Price has six shutouts this season. Since Jan. 14, he is 14-2-1 with four shutouts.

"Personally, I think a shutout is a team stat, it's not an individual stat," Price said after the win Saturday. "We've been committed to playing defense all year and I think that number reflects that."

Following a 4-0 setback at the San Jose Sharks on Monday, Price led the NHL in goals-against average (1.92) and save percentage (.935). He has allowed more than two goals in a game twice since Jan. 6, a span of 18 starts.

That is why at the quarter pole, he is NHL.com's pick to win the Vezina Trophy as the League's top goaltender. He has continued to find ways to elevate his game since helping Canada win a gold medal at the Sochi Olympics last year.

"I don't know if it's just maturity or just knowing you have the ability or whatever it is, you just go out there and do your job," Price said. "Obviously you need a team in front of you to play well. I totally trust the guys that are playing around me, and that's the God's honest truth. All I worry about is making that first save, and when you're doing that it really simplifies things."

FINALISTS

Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators -- Rinne has been outstanding all season long and was NHL.com's pick to win the Vezina at the quarter pole and the halfway point of the season. He was leading the NHL with 29 wins when he sustained a knee injury on Jan. 13. Entering play Tuesday, Price is the lone player ahead of Rinne in the race for wins (35), GAA (2.10) and save percentage (.928).

"He's having a great season," former Predators goalie Tomas Vokoun told The Tennessean last Friday. "It's unfortunate he got hurt or he could have been running out in front of everyone all by himself. But it's still an unbelievable season and it's far from over."

Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals -- Some people enjoy having an occasional day off. Not Holtby.

The Capitals goaltender has started all but four games since Dec. 2 and has helped Washington become a contender for the Metropolitan Division crown. Holtby, 25, won his 30th game of the season in a 4-0 win against the Maple Leafs at Verizon Center on Sunday. It was Holtby's seventh shutout and he lowered his GAA to 2.16 and raised his save percentage to .925.

"He's been outstanding all year for us," Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said of Holtby. "When we need a save, he makes a save."

Also in the mix: Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins; Brian Elliott St. Louis Blues; Cory Schneider, New Jersey Devils

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
Author: Brian Compton | NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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