Carey Price put on a show for the home folks -- and made sure the Montreal Canadiens didn't leave Western Canada empty-handed.
Price, who grew up in Anahim Lake, B.C., made 37 saves as the Montreal Canadiens beat the Canucks 3-2 on Tuesday night for their first win in Vancouver since Oct. 30, 2000 -- and just their second in their last eight games.
"It's been a tough road trip," Price said of the Canadiens' swing through Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. "It's always hard coming through here, with all the travel and the time changes. We really wanted to come in here and get two points, and the guys really battled for me tonight. We did everything we needed to do to win tonight."
Unlike Sunday, when the Canadiens couldn't beat Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff during a 4-0 loss to the Flames in the Tim Horton's NHL Heritage Classic, the Habs jumped on Vancouver for two goals 67 seconds apart in the first period.
The Canadiens had a pregame meeting, and coach Jacques Martin shuffled his lines.
"Jacques just told us to work harder," Price said. "We kind of got away from our fundamentals. He told us to get back to basics, and that's what we did today.
David Desharnais opened the scoring on a breakaway at 6:07, tucking the puck between Roberto Luongo's legs on a backhand deke. Brian Gionta doubled the lead at 7:14, firing home the rebound of P.K. Subban's point shot after Luongo failed to control it. Max Pacioretty almost scored again two minutes later, but hit the post.
In all, the Canadiens outshot the Canucks 14-1 in the first 10 minutes.
"We knew we were going to meet a team that was on edge and they proved it the first 10 minutes," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "They threw everything they had at us. They were first on the puck. They completely controlled the game."
But the Canucks came alive in the second half of the period, then capitalized on Price's delay of game penalty early in the second when Henrik Sedin scored at 3:27, blasting a shot from the slot that Price had trouble seeing due to a screen from Ryan Kesler.
Andrei Kostitsyn restored Montreal's two-goal lead and ended a 12-game scoring drought when he beat Luongo with a sharp-angle shot at 10:36.
Mikael Samuelsson made it 3-2 at 1:06 of the third, beating Price with a shot from the blue line for another power-play goal. Daniel Sedin assisted on the goal, giving him a League-leading 78 points.
But Price, who punched a hole in the dressing room wall after allowing seven goals in his first NHL game in Vancouver early last season, made big stops on Samuelsson, Alex Burrows and Sami Salo in the final period as the Canucks pressed for the tying goal.
"For sure," he said when asked if winning in his home province and with family and friends in the Rogers Arena crowd was special. "It's always nice to come back home, and I wanted this one. I think all the guys in the locker room knew that, and they really battled for me."
Canadiens defenseman Paul Mara made sure to grab the puck after the final buzzer and present it to Price after he was mobbed by his teammates.
"I really wanted that puck. That was the only one I've wanted all year," Price said. "I've watched the Canucks my whole life being from B.C., and getting an opportunity to play against them and actually win here is pretty special."
The slow start left the Canucks with only their second regulation loss at home since early December. They still lead Philadelphia by one point in the overall standings and are five ahead of Detroit in the West.
"For whatever reason, our battle level wasn't there," Kesler said of the early 2-0 deficit. "After that 10 minutes I thought we dominated the game, but you've got to give it to their goalie."
The Canucks did get some good news -- two of their injured defensemen return to their lineup. Dan Hamhuis
, who missed five games with a concussion, and Keith Ballard
, out for six games with a knee injury, both played.
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report