MONTREAL -- Carey Price pulled into the Bell Centre parking garage at 5 p.m. ET Tuesday. Two hours to the minute later, he was on the ice for warmups before the Montreal Canadiens hosted the Detroit Red Wings.
At 10:03, Price stood alone at the summit of goaltending of the oldest franchise in professional hockey, his 315th regular-season win with the Canadiens, one more than team icon Jacques Plante.
"I'm very proud, obviously, first and foremost today to be standing here with this (milestone) puck in my hand," said Price, who made 20 saves in a 3-1 win.
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"I'm definitely thankful for all the help that I've gotten along the way. There's been ups and downs throughout this whole process. I've played with a lot of great guys, played with some excellent teams. I'll definitely have time to reflect on it, but I don't feel like that time is quite yet."
Price (29-20-5) tied Plante's record when he made 26 saves in a 3-1 win at the Los Angeles Kings on March 5. He had an opportunity to set the record three nights later at the Anaheim Ducks, but he allowed eight goals on 29 shots in an 8-2 loss.
Canadiens fans brought their love Tuesday, when Montreal's end of the rink during warmups was wallpapered with youngsters pressed to the glass, holding signs that begged for souvenir pucks and sticks, or simply offered a hopeful message.
"315, just the tip of the iceberg!" read one in Price's honor.
If the home team was desperate in the logjam of the wild-card race, it showed little of it early. When the Canadiens did, Red Wings goalie Jonathan Bernier, 1-10-3 lifetime against the Canadiens, stood tall. But goals in the second period by Montreal forwards Max Domi at 12:27 and Brent Kulak at 17:32 took the game into the third, when heavily covered Andreas Athanasiou scored between Price's legs at 40 seconds.
And then came the "Car-ey!" chants midway through the third, Price making a stupendous left pad save to foil the breakaway attempt of Tyler Bertuzzi before smothering the rebound tries of Frans Nielsen and Thomas Vanek amid a pile of flying bodies with his stick caught up in the mesh behind him.
"I just tried to do the Dominator," Price joked of Hall of Fame goalie Dominik Hasek, who frequently made near-impossible saves with his wild, sometimes ungainly style. "Spread out, cover the goal line. I was just trying to cover everything low and our guys just dogpiled it in the crease and we were able to get a whistle and take a sigh of relief."
Domi's second goal of the game, scored into an empty net at 19:11, brought little reaction from Price, other than his turning to lift the water bottle off his net to take a swig.
"I was thinking the game's not over yet," he said with a grin. "I was trying to stay focused right to the end. I know … we pretty much had the game in hand at that point. But until the whistle or horn goes, I want to stay focused and enjoy it after."
Amid a bit of a scrum behind the Canadiens net at the final siren, Price muscled in to scoop up the final game puck that he was still holding a half-hour later in the dressing room.
"Yeah, I want this one," he said.
Plante had been the Canadiens' regular-season wins leader since Jan. 2, 1960, his 209th victory, a 30-save, 6-5 victory at the Boston Bruins, lifting him one past boyhood idol Bill Durnan. His final regular-season win for the Canadiens came March 16, 1963, up the road from Bell Centre at the Montreal Forum. As delicious coincidence would have it, Plante's 35-save, 5-3 victory that night came against the Red Wings.
Plante would play four more games that regular season - three ties, then and a 5-0 loss at the New York Rangers to end the schedule. He and the Canadiens would be eliminated 4-1 by the Toronto Maple Leafs in a Stanley Cup Playoff semifinal.
No one, least of all Plante, figured he'd played his last game for Montreal; he was sent to the Rangers in a blockbuster trade on June 4, leaving the Canadiens having played 556 games with a record of 314 wins, 221 losses and 107 ties. Price passed him Tuesday in his 613rd game, his record 315-221-67; 246 of those wins have come in regulation, 39 in overtime and 30 more by shootout.
Price trails Plante in only the shutout category, his 43 ranking him fourth in Canadiens history behind Ken Dryden (46), Plante (58) and George Hainsworth (75).
The portraits of eight Hockey Hall of Fame Canadiens goalies are over Bell Centre dressing-room stalls among all of the team's enshrined. Georges Vezina is to Price's right, Hainsworth is directly over his head, Durnan is over his left shoulder and Plante is 11 photos down followed by Gump Worsley, Dryden, Patrick Roy and Rogie Vachon. Price now leads all of them in franchise wins.
"Every one of them played hard for this organization," he said, looking up at Vezina. "I feel like most people who have donned this jersey have laid it all out there. I'm proud to be a part of this."