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Encouraging Price leads Canadiens to Game 7 win

by Arpon Basu

BOSTON -- Carey Price never has been a man of many words.

The Montreal Canadiens goaltender usually lets his play do the talking, and it's been talking a lot this season.

But when that season was on the line, when the Canadiens were 20 minutes away from going to the Eastern Conference Final for the second time in five seasons if they could hold on to a one-goal lead against the best third-period team in the NHL, Price decided it was time for him to speak with his words.

They had a big impact on his teammates.

Price addressed the Canadiens dressing room during the second intermission of their 3-1 win against the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Second Round series Wednesday, then proceeded to make eight of his 29 saves in the third period.

"It wasn't much," Price said. "It was just a reminder to live in the moment. That's all I really said. That's the truth. At this time of year, it's easy to let your emotions get carried away, especially in a situation like tonight. I thought our guys … I don't even think they really needed for me to say anything.

"I thought we were a really composed group the whole series."

A lot of that composure comes from Price.

Standing in his net, he is an image of calm even though what is happening around him may be chaotic. Price often makes difficult saves look easy and miraculous saves look merely difficult. It might be why he sometimes doesn't get as much credit as his teammates believe he deserves.

Price will not show up on many highlight reels because he makes it a point not to make highlight-reel saves. He'd rather be square to the shooter and make the save look easy.

"He's a leader; he's the guy on this team," Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty said. "They had us hemmed in there a bit, he comes back to the bench for the TV timeout -- sometimes you see goalies yelling at their defensemen or giving the team a hard time -- he comes over and cracks jokes. He's winking."

It was Pacioretty's penalty that opened the door for the Bruins to cut the Canadiens' 2-0 lead in half late in the second period on Jarome Iginla's power-play goal. He felt bad about it and expected Price to feel the same way. Instead, his goaltender gave a speech telling his teammates to refocus on what was ahead of them.

"I was expecting to come in and see him a little bit down on himself. That wasn't the case at all," Pacioretty said. "He was more confident than I've ever seen him before. He spoke up and said something like, 'Only live in the moment, don't worry about the past.' I don't know if that's the difference in his game this year from every other year, but I'm speechless with how he's playing."

The difference in Price is he's become a man.

Thrust into the role of starting goaltender for the Canadiens when he was 20 years old, Price has come of age under the glaring spotlight of one of the most pressure-packed positions in sport. It wasn't a smooth ride, but he's come out of it stronger at age 26.

In the same year Price carried the weight of a nation on his shoulders at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and came home with a gold medal, he has led the Canadiens to the Eastern Conference Final.

Price sat on the bench and watched the last time the Canadiens made it this far, as Jaroslav Halak became a beloved figure in Montreal in 2010.

Canadiens fans, and even Price himself, didn't know then if he would ever get a chance to do the same thing. But here he is, four years after watching a run like this from the bench, as the central figure in Montreal's berth among the final four teams left in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

And he would love nothing more than to one up what Halak accomplished four years ago.

"I am ecstatic," Price said. "I don't show it a whole lot, but at the same time you have to realize that it's not over.

"We are only halfway there."

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