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Price says he can't get Canadiens past Penguins alone in Cup Qualifier

Goalie feels they'll 'all need to play over our heads'

by Tracey Myers @Tramyers_NHL / Staff Writer

Carey Price said it's going to take more than great play from him for the Montreal Canadiens to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.

"I can sway the odds with outstanding play, but at the end of the day, we'll all need to play over our heads to win," the goalie said Monday. "I just go out there and play my game, try not to do too much. We'll win and lose as a team, and it's always been like that."

Price was 27-25-6 with a 2.79 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage in 58 games before the season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. He is 348-250-74 with a 2.49 GAA and a .917 save percentage in 682 games over 13 NHL seasons, all with the Canadiens.

In 33 games against the Penguins, Price is 13-14-5 with a 2.95 GAA and .907 save percentage. He was 1-1-1 with a 2.32 GAA and .929 save percentage in three starts against Pittsburgh this season.

The Canadiens (31-31-9, .500 points percentage) enter the Qualifiers as the No. 12 seed in the Eastern Conference. They will play the No. 5 seed, the Penguins (40-23-6, .623), in one of four best-of-5 series to be held at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, the hub city for the 12 participating teams from the East. Game 1 is Aug. 1.

The winner will advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the loser will have a chance at the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft in the Second Phase of the NHL Draft Lottery, to be held Aug. 10. Montreal will try to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2017, when it lost to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference First Round.

Video: MTL@OTT: Price extends his glove to deny Duclair

Price said he's faced plenty of shots since he joined the Canadiens for voluntary workouts July 6 and that it has continued in training camp, which opened a week ago.

"We've had some pretty intense practices and everyone's feeling pretty good right now," said Price, who in 2015 was voted both the Hart Trophy winner as NHL most valuable player and the Vezina Trophy winner as the best goalie in the League. "I think it's just going to be getting timing. The biggest challenge for everyone is getting back into game speed."

Price said he enjoys the challenge of playing the Penguins and facing centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Crosby had 47 points (16 goals, 31 assists) in 41 games this season; Malkin led the Penguins with 74 points (25 goals, 49 assists) in 55 games.

"They've always had an exceptional team, and playing against two of the top players on the same team is an exciting challenge," he said. "We have a bit of history with Pittsburgh and we played them once before in the playoffs (Montreal defeated Pittsburgh in seven games in the 2010 conference semifinals), and that was a pretty exciting series to watch."

The last time Price had this quick of a turnaround to prepare for games other than in the preseason was the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, which he won with Team Canada. "It's kind of the same scenario," he said, "getting right into the sprint."

Price said he isn't worried about the short training camp affecting his or the Canadiens' game.

"You just try to be as efficient as possible out there," he said. "To be honest, it doesn't seem like we stopped playing that long ago. Everyone showed up and was ready, everyone seemed well prepared for the possibility of coming back, everyone seemed to be in good shape. We're just trying to prepare as if we've just finished the season."

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