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Habs survive Game 7

by Brian Hunter

Carey Price stopped 25 shots in the Canadiens 5-0 win over Boston, giving Montreal a pass into the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. He also became the fourth rookie goalie in NHL history to post a shutout in a Game 7.
Watch highlights from the Habs 5-0 win
That was a close one.

For a while, it appeared the Montreal Canadiens were on the fast track to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They had a 3-1 series lead on the Boston Bruins and hadn’t allowed more than two goals in any of the first four games.

Suddenly, though, things began to unravel. Boston reeled off back-to-back wins, scoring five times in Games 5 and 6 to take the best-of-seven series to the limit. Some questioned whether Canadiens goalie Carey Price would be able to bounce back under the circumstances.

There’s no need to worry any longer.

Price stopped all 25 shots for his second shutout of the series as the Canadiens moved on with a 5-0 win over the Bruins in Game 7 of the opening-round series at the Bell Centre. It was the perfect way for the rookie netminder to show that he’s ready for the big time.

Top-seeded Montreal will face either Philadelphia or the New York Rangers in the second round. The Flyers face the Washington Capitals in Game 7 of their quarterfinal series on Tuesday night.

“You just can’t get down on yourself or panic,” said Price, who blanked the Bruins 1-0 in Game 4. “When you give up a few goals, you can’t just give up. I play to win, and our whole team does. We knew we could play well. It was a rough couple of games and we knew it just wasn't going our way. I knew it was going to turn around eventually, and tonight it did.''

Montreal took an early 1-0 lead when defenseman Mike Komisarek beat Tim Thomas with a low slap shot from the point 3:31 into the first period. The goal allowed the Canadiens to set the tone on home ice – one of their objectives heading into the contest.

“We just had to pick up our intensity; we need to outwork those guys,” Komisarek said. “We had to get the puck in deep and really work their defensemen. I think our forwards did an awesome job down low, paying the price.”

Mark Streit put the Canadiens up by a pair when he notched his first goal of the postseason at 10:45 of the second period. The Habs’ defenseman made a nifty move around Boston’s Zdeno Chara before sending a backhand shot past Thomas to make it 2-0.

Andrei Kostitsyn scored his first of two goals on the night less than five minutes later. Just as a holding penalty to Chara expired, Kostitsyn took a centering feed from brother Sergei and ripped a shot past Thomas for his second goal of the playoffs. The Canadiens outshot the Bruins 17-6 in the middle period.

''The character of this team can't be overemphasized, I don't think, for what we battled through all year and even this seven-game series,'' Thomas said.

Canadiens forward Alex Kovalev agreed, although he thought Montreal’s effort could have been better in the previous two games.

''You've got to give them credit,'' said Kovalev, who assisted on the Canadiens' first two goals. ''They battled back and even down 3-1 and coming back to our building they were able to regroup and get a couple of wins, but the mistakes we made, we didn't compete like we did today. If we had played the way we played tonight, I think we could have done it earlier.''

Montreal busted the game wide open with two more tallies by the Kostitsyns late in the third period. Andrei scored on the power play with just 2:02 remaining before Sergei sealed the deal with only 7.3 seconds left.

The Canadiens breathed a collective sigh of relief when the final horn sounded, knowing full well they had just avoided disaster. Montreal had never lost a series when leading 3-1.

“You could really feel them coming on – not just in the last game, but right in that second game,” Price said. “You could feel them starting to play well.”

Luckily, though, Price got back on track just in time to save Montreal’s season.

“Pricey doesn’t get fazed by much,” Komisarek said. “He’s always calm and collected back there. He made some huge saves early on and showed that he was in the game and ready to go. He came up big for us not only tonight, but the entire series.”

Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.

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