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Canadiens end Canucks' six-game win streak

by Arpon Basu

MONTREAL - Carey Price had spent his whole life dreaming of playing for the Vancouver Canucks, but when the opportunity first arose for the young Montreal Canadiens goaltender to face them last year it was a disaster.

However, it's a new year -- and a new Carey Price, as he showed Tuesday night.

Price made 34 saves to shut out the team he grew up cheering for as the Canadiens halted the Canucks six-game winning streak with a 2-0 victory Tuesday night.

It was Price's second shutout of the season and sixth of his career, making up for that nightmarish appearance last year in Vancouver when he allowed seven goals in 2 1/2 periods in a 7-1 loss.

"It was obviously lingering in the back of my mind," said Price, who was born in Vancouver but grew up in the small northern British Columbia community of Anahim Lake. "I didn't want to have that happen again."

Andrei Markov and Roman Hamrlik each scored their first goals of the season for the Canadiens (9-5-1), who won for only the second time in five games.

"It's one of the most satisfying wins of the year," Canadiens coach Jacques Martin said. "It was like a chess match because we matched lines a lot tonight."

Hamrlik's goal came on a third-period power play, ending an 0-for-17 drought with the man advantage for the Habs. Hamrlik has been in on all four power-play goals the Canadiens have scored this season with 1 goal and 3 assists.

"That's news to me," Hamrlik said of the quirky statistic. "It's nice to be there to be able to help on the power play, but I have to just keep things simple, keep shooting and getting pucks through."

The Canucks (8-4-2) came into the game with the League's top power play, which had clicked on 7 of 13 opportunities over the previous three games. But Montreal's fifth-ranked penalty killing unit won that battle, shutting Vancouver out on four opportunities and holding the Canucks to only four shots on goal.

"We weren't moving the puck the way we should or getting guys in front of the net," Daniel Sedin said. "We just weren't hungry enough, especially on the power play."

The Canadiens have killed off 24 of the last 26 opposition power plays they've faced.

"Everybody's got the same frame of mind (on the penalty kill), when one guy pressures we all pressure," Price said. "When you put pressure on a power play, it forces them to make three or four or five passes to make a play. That's tough for a power play to do."

Price was solid when he needed to be, but it wasn't very often early on as the Canadiens played a very sound defensive game and neutralized the high-powered Sedin twins, holding Henrik and Daniel to two shots on goal between them.

But one of those shots was a dangerous one as Daniel Sedin came in on a partial breakaway midway through the third and forced Price into a tough save.

Price did have to make a number of quality stops late in the third as the Canucks pressed to erase the two-goal deficit -- most notably a skate save on Christian Ehrhoff on what was the defenseman's ninth shot on goal of the night, and another diving save with 12 seconds left to deny Jannik Hansen.

"I just tried to do everything the right way and do everything fundamentally sound," Price said. "When you do that, some nights everything comes together perfectly."

Martin gave the defensive pairing of Hamrlik and Jaroslav Spacek and the forward line centered by Tomas Plekanec the assignment of checking the Sedins' line with Alexandre Burrows, and they were up to the challenge.

"It's not easy to play against a line like that, especially the Sedins, but we knew we had to keep it tight in the middle and just give them the outside," said Hamrlik, who was informed at the very last moment of his defensive assignment. "We were just sitting on the bench and all of a sudden (assistant coach) Perry (Pearn) said, 'O.K., Hammer you're against the Sedins.' And that was it."

Price's counterpart in the Vancouver net, Montreal native Roberto Luongo, couldn't be faulted on either of the Canadiens' goals. Markov scored on a rebound in tight at 6:53 of the first and Hamrlik got his on a rebound off the end boards at 4:39 of the third. Still, it was Luongo's first loss in five starts.

Defenseman Dan Hamhuis returned to the Canucks lineup and played 19:50, paired mostly with Aaron Rome.

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