MONTREAL - What better news for rookie Carey Price to call home with than that of his first NHL shutout?
Price made 34 saves and Andrei Kostitsyn scored a circus goal as the Montreal Canadiens held off the slumping Philadelphia Flyers for a 1-0 NHL victory on Saturday night.
"I'll call home - my dad watches all the games, so it's pretty fun," the low-key 20-year-old said. "The Flyers came out hard. I give the defence a lot of credit."
It was a sixth straight defeat for the Flyers (30-23-5), who play the Canadiens (31-19-9) again on Sunday night in Philadelphia. Montreal, which won a second straight, is 3-0 against the Flyers this season, outscoring them 10-3.
The Canadiens moved to two points back of Northeast Division and Eastern Conference leading Ottawa.
The Flyers outshot Montreal 34-20, including 15-3 in the third period, but Price used his big body and quick legs to prolong the Philadelphia slump. It will likely not be the last shutout for Price, the fifth overall draft pick of 2005 who is tabbed as the Canadiens goaltender of the future.
The Flyers were irate after they got one into the Montreal net with 1:09 to play, but referee Dave Jackson ruled it no goal because Price was pushed into the net with the puck by big forward Scott Hartnell, which is not a reviewable call.
"They made the call on the ice that the goalie was pushed in and that didn't happen - we saw that on the replay," said Flyers goal John Stevens, who was also angry at a quick whistle during another scramble in front of Price with 22 seconds left to play.
On that one, Hartnell was cut for several stitches on the chin by Mike Komisarek's stick, which also wasn't called.
"It's frustrating," said Hartnell. "We worked so hard and had so many chances and we didn't get a break.
"I didn't see the replay, but I was on the right side and the puck went in on the left. The ref didn't see it and they didn't even have the courtesy to go upstairs the review it."
Kostitsyn got his 18th of the season on a power play at 3:52 of the second period.
The left winger from Belarus took a puck from Alex Kovalev and went to the net. He looked to have lost the puck and was falling down as he reached back to swipe it along the ice and in off a stunned Antero Niittymaki.
It wasn't quite the Alexander Ovechkin rolling backhander goal of last season, but it wasn't too far behind.
"He gave me a lesson," joked Kostitsyn. "I just tried to get the puck at the net.
"I lost it. I went down on the ice and so I tried to score with a backhand."
The Flyers' best chance to tie it came early in the third frame when they had a two-man advantage for 1:53, helped when defenceman Roman Hamrlik lost his stick. But Price was solid as he held off a fierce Philadelphia barrage and got a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 21,273.
It was the second straight start for Price, a 2-1 winner in Florida on Thursday night, since he was recalled from AHL Hamilton last week.
"He obviously played really well, but sometimes you forget the job the defence does in front of him," said captain Saku Koivu. "I thought our defence played a great game."
Coach Guy Carbonneau would not say whether Price or veteran Cristobal Huet would start on Sunday night.
The Flyers tried to get Daniel Briere out of a slump that saw him score only twice in the previous 13 games by moving him from centre to right wing with Mike Richards and Hartnell.
Briere, who turned down an offer from Montreal to sign as a free agent last summer with Philadelphia, was booed each time he touched the puck.
Notes: Hamrlik returned after missing five games with a virus and a rash, bumping Patrice Brisebois from the Montreal lineup. Steve Begin and Michael Ryder were healthy scratches as Alex Kovalev was deemed fit to play despite a sore ankle. . . Defenceman Derian Hatcher (inflamed right knee) missed a second straight game while Braydon Coburn (torn buttocks muscle) sat out a fourth game for the Flyers. Kyle Greentree was a scratch.