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Carey Price aims to tie 89-year-old Canadiens record

Goalie would match single-season mark of 11 straight wins with victory Tuesday against Panthers

by Arpon Basu @ArponBasu / Senior Managing Editor

Carey Price is on the verge of making Montreal Canadiens history, and the way he has been playing since the start of the 2014-15 season, he better get used to it.

When Price starts in goal against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; SNE, RDS, FS-F), he will be aiming for his 11th straight win this season, which would match the single-season Montreal record for consecutive victories by a goaltender set by George Hainsworth from Feb. 24-March 24, 1927.

It's not every day a player can break a record that has stood for nearly 90 years, but it is appropriate Price has the opportunity to do so because his recent run of success is reaching historic proportions.

Price already made NHL history Saturday when he and the Canadiens defeated the Detroit Red Wings 5-0, making him the first goalie to win his first 10 games in a season. Montreal can match another NHL record Tuesday by starting a season with 11 straight home wins, a record set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks.

Video: LAK@MTL: Price's spectacular glove save on Kopitar

"It's hard to describe his performances," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said Saturday, "because we're constantly repeating ourselves."

Over his past 25 NHL regular-season starts dating to the end of the 2014-15 season, Price has a record of 23-2-0 with a 1.82 goals-against average, a .935 save percentage and four shutouts. He has won his past 13 NHL starts plus all five of his starts for Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey 2016, giving Price 18 straight wins heading into his start against Florida.

That streak began after Price lost a second straight start last season, 4-3 at the Edmonton Oilers on Oct. 29, 2015. But even that game comes with an asterisk because Price injured his knee just prior to the game when he stepped on a puck in warmups. He played the game regardless, allowed four goals on 27 shots, and then missed the next nine games recovering from his injury.

That game was one of seven times over his past 25 NHL regular-season starts that Price has allowed more than two goals in a game, something he has done once in 10 starts this season, a 5-4 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Nov. 5.

It is that level of consistent dominance that makes Price such a game-changer, one that has the ability to creep into the minds of his opponents and live there.

"I think he's in a space where he just doesn't really consider too many situations where he is going to get scored on and just trusts completely, is not overthinking, just going out and playing hockey," Vancouver Canucks goalie Ryan Miller said Monday. "That's the kind of goaltending where you have to do less because you are more in the head of the other team and they change what they think they need to do, and by changing what they do, they don't play as well in other areas.

"That's kind of the pinnacle."

It is impossible to know what would have happened if a sprained MCL in his right knee did not end Price's 2015-16 season on Nov. 25, but it's become obvious the time he missed did not hinder his development. In fact, judging by how he has performed since the start of training camp for the World Cup, it might have even helped.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was asked early on in Team Canada training camp if he noticed any rust in Price's game during practice. Before the question was even completed, as soon as he heard the word "rust," Crosby started laughing.

"Nope," he said, shaking his head and still laughing.

So, are we witnessing history here?

Price should pass Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender Ken Dryden for third on the Canadiens' all-time wins list sometime in the next month or two. Price has 243 career wins, which is 15 behind Dryden's 258, 45 behind Patrick Roy's 289 and 71 behind Jacques Plante's 314.

It is not unreasonable to believe Price could pass Plante by the end of next season, considering Price's record in his 88 games since the start of the 2014-15 season is 64-18-6.

Over that same span, Price has a save percentage of .936, well ahead of three starting goalies tied for second behind him at .925, Devan Dubnyk of the Minnesota Wild, Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks and Cory Schneider of the New Jersey Devils. Price is third since the start of the 2014-15 season with 13 shutouts, two back of Marc-Andre Fleury of the Penguins, who has played 45 more games.

This season, Price has a .957 save percentage, first among goalies with at least five games played, but not only is he stopping more shots than everyone, he's stopping the most difficult ones better than anyone else as well.

Video: PHI@MTL: Price robs Voracek with a great glove save

The website Corsica.Hockey defines shots faced by a goaltender as low, medium or high danger based on the likelihood a shot from that location and under a given set of circumstances will beat an average goalie. According to the site, Price has faced 46 high-danger shots in 5-on-5 situations this season and allowed two goals, a high-danger save percentage of .957. That is the same as his overall save percentage and also is the best in the NHL among goalies who have played a minimum 200 minutes at 5-on-5.

Dubnyk is way back in second (.925), and four other goalies are at .900 or better: Crawford, Schneider, Al Montoya, who is Price's backup, and Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins.

Perhaps the shot with the highest degree of danger Price has faced this season came off the stick of Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar in the third period of a 4-1 Canadiens win last Thursday. With Price laying on the ground out of position, Kopitar got the puck in front of the net and got everything on his shot except some height.

That mistake was enough for Price, who got the cuff of his glove on the shot and deflected it out of play.

"I don't know how he did it," Kopitar said, "but he did it."

Kopitar is not alone in his bewilderment. Price's opponents have been wondering the same thing for two years. correspondent Kevin Woodley contributed to this report.

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