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Historic night for Canadiens' Price at NHL Awards

by Dan Rosen

LAS VEGAS -- Carey Price clearly was nervous when he delivered his first acceptance speech at the 2015 NHL Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Wednesday.

"I was really uncomfortable," the Montreal Canadiens goalie said.

Fortunately it got easier for him as the night went along. He had a lot of practice because he had a historic night as a four-time winner.

Price took home the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player, the Vezina Trophy as the League's best goalie and the Ted Lindsay Award for the most outstanding player as voted by the players. Price also received a share of the William M. Jennings Trophy with Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks as the goalies on the teams that allowed the fewest goals in the regular season (189).

Price, 27, is the first goalie in NHL history to sweep those four awards. He also is the first goalie to win the Hart Trophy since former Montreal goalie Jose Theodore did it in 2001-02 and the first to win the Ted Lindsay Award since Dominik Hasek of the Buffalo Sabres in 1997-98.

In addition, Price is the second player in Canadiens history to win four awards. The first was Guy Lafleur, who won the Hart Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award (formerly the Lester B. Pearson Award), Art Ross Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy in 1977.

"It hasn't really sunk in yet," Price said. "I'm just truly grateful just to be here. I don't really know what to say. It's been an amazing experience. This whole season has been just amazing. There is still one more thing I want to get though."

Price is talking about the Stanley Cup. He still hasn't won that yet, but his past 17 months have nonetheless been special.

He won gold as Canada's starting goalie at the 2014 Sochi Olympics last February. He was injured in the 2014 Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers and missed the last five games of the series, but he rebounded in a historic way this season.

Price led the NHL with 44 wins, a 1.96 goals-against average and .933 save percentage, becoming the first goalie to finish first in all three categories since Ed Belfour did it with the Blackhawks in 1990-91. Price's 44 wins set a Canadiens record.

"It's been a crazy ride," Price said. "Everything has just fallen into place for some reason. The team has been playing well. Things are just awesome at home. My family is doing great. It's just been such a blessing."

In winning the Lindsay Award and the Hart and Vezina trophies, Price's spectacular season was recognized by three different groups.

The members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association vote for the Hart Trophy. Price blew away the competition, finishing with 139 first-place votes and 1,498 voting points. Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was second with 888.

The NHL's general managers vote for the Vezina Trophy. Price received 27 of the 30 first-place votes and finished with 144 voting points, 84 more than Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators.

Price's peers, fellow members of the NHL Players' Association, vote for the Lindsay Award. The voting results were not revealed.

"I'm very humbled," Price said. "Especially the players, no offense to everybody else, but I'm very humbled by that because I compete against these guys. We go to war out there, and for them to vote for me is really special."

The Calgary Flames, who had the most finalists for awards (four), took home two pieces of hardware. Flames coach Bob Hartley won the Jack Adams Award, and forward Jiri Hudler became the first Czech player to win the Lady Byng Trophy.

Hartley, who coached the Flames to a surprising trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, received 37 of the 75 first-place votes available as cast by the NHL's Broadcasters' Association. He received 237 voting points.

Hudler edged four-time Lady Byng winner Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings by 52 points. He finished with 700 points and 52 first-place votes.

"I know Wayne Gretzky won it five times," Hudler said of the Lady Byng Trophy. "I know it started in 1925. And I know I'm the first Czech player to win it, and that is all I care about."

Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson and Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron each added to his trophy collection.

Karlsson won the Norris Trophy for the second time in his career (2012), and Bergeron won the Selke Trophy for the second straight year and third time in the past four years.

Bergeron barely edged Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews in what has become an annual back and forth between them in the Selke voting. Bergeron received 75 first-place votes and 1,083 voting points; Toews received 51 first-place votes and 1,051 voting points.

"Any time you have a competition against Jonathan it's always a big challenge," Bergeron said. "Whether it's on the ice or off the ice, he's a competitor and a winner. I love watching him play and I try to take some of the things out of his game."

Karlsson, who led defensemen with 66 points (21 goals), received 44 first-place votes and 964 voting points. He joins Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith as the only active defensemen to win the Norris Trophy multiple times.

"The bar is pretty high and it just keeps raising, which in my mind I think is a good thing and it pushes me to try to get better every day," Karlsson said. "The situation I'm in right now is very special and it's something I hold very high for my individual and personal achievements."

Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad won the Calder Trophy as the top rookie on the one-year anniversary of the day he arrived in Philadelphia in advance of the 2014 NHL Draft, where he was the No. 1 pick.

Ekblad is the first defenseman since Tyler Myers in 2010 and the 11th in history to win the Calder Trophy, which has been handed out every season since 1932-33.

"I did not expect to win this trophy at all," Ekblad said. "I assumed that a forward would win it. I think it's an award dominated by forwards. Pretty special to be within the few names of defensemen who have won this trophy."

Despite losing out in the Vezina Trophy voting, Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk went home as the winner of the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

And despite losing out to Bergeron in the Selke Trophy voting, Toews took home the Mark Messier Leadership Award presented by Bridgestone.

Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman won the General Manager of the Year voting. His team lost to the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final.

Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg (King Clancy Memorial Trophy) and San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns (NHL Foundation Player Award) also won Wednesday.

In addition, Ovechkin received the Rocket Richard Trophy for scoring the most goals in the regular season (53), and Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn received the Art Ross Trophy for most points in the season (87).

But the night belonged to Price, who was almost speechless by the end of it.

"You try and prepare something to say, and it never really comes out the way you had in mind," Price said. "I'm just truly grateful to be here. I'm just immeasurably blessed to do what I do. That's all I really have to say."


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