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Price, Canadiens blank Blues for seventh straight win

by Sean Farrell /

MONTREAL -- Perfect against Eastern Conference opponents through six games, the Montreal Canadiens continued their record-setting start by shutting out the top team in the Western Conference.

Carey Price made a season-high 38 saves for his second shutout in three games and the Canadiens extended their best start in history to seven wins in a row with a 3-0 victory against the St. Louis Blues at Bell Centre on Tuesday.

Max Pacioretty, Alexander Semin and Torrey Mitchell scored for Montreal, which remains perfect and leads the NHL with 14 points. The Canadiens' 7-0-0 record tops their previous best start through seven games of six wins and one tie in 1961-62 and 1977-78.

"Just like the other games, we picked up our intensity as the game went on," Pacioretty said. "That's a different team than we've seen this year. They're a big team, they're a physical team, and we haven't played that style yet, but what I really liked about our team is we didn't get caught up in the extra stuff. As soon as we went up, it seemed like they wanted to try and drag us down and maybe get us to take one or play 4-on-4, but that's good discipline by our group not to get caught up in that and play whistle to whistle."

The winning streak is Montreal's longest in more than nine years; the Canadiens won eight in a row from March 23 to April 6, 2006. According to Elias Sports Bureau, it is the first time Montreal has won seven straight games in regulation since Oct. 24 to Nov. 11, 1992.

"This is a well-coached, disciplined, play-the-game-the-right-way team; they're going to be a bear all year for everybody," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said.

It was the 36th career shutout for Price, who was named the NHL First Star of the Week on Monday. The reigning Hart, Vezina and Jennings Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award winner has allowed one goal in his past three starts, including a 25-save shutout in a 3-0 win against the New York Rangers in Montreal's 98th home opener last Thursday.

Jake Allen made 33 saves for St. Louis, which fell to 5-2-0 but remains tied for the conference lead.

"They're definitely a big, heavy West Coast team and we just used our speed appropriately when we could," Price said. "We came out of the gate slow, but we rallied and played a very solid game afterwards."

The Blues ended a four-game winning streak to complete their season-high six-game road trip.

"It was a great road trip before we got here," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I thought when they scored the second goal our energy dropped a little bit, you know, [it's] the first time we've been chasing a game like this, and I thought we saw a little bit of lack of energy towards the second half of the game. We had it in the zone a lot but we didn't have the push to get it into the open spaces to score."

Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko's point streak ended at six games. Named the NHL Third Star of the Week, he entered the game tied for the League lead with five goals and nine points.

Tarasenko had an opportunity to add to those totals in the first on a pass by Scott Gomez, but Price flashed his glove to make a spectacular save. Gomez patted Price, his former Montreal teammate, on the mask after the save.

"I actually wound up overplaying it a little bit so I kind of got a little bit lucky being able to get a piece of that one, but any time you can come up with the right save at the right time it's going to be helpful," Price said.

St. Louis outshot Montreal 17-11 in the first period, including two by Tarasenko, who led the Blues with six shots.

"It seemed like every time he was on the ice he got a shot, but that guy's dangerous to play against," Pacioretty said. "It's obvious why he's having so much success in this league, and maybe we didn't give him enough pressure at times, but he's a dangerous player and he's going to make plays."

Pacioretty got credit for his fifth goal at 18:27 of the first period when Tomas Plekanec's shot struck him on its way past Allen after it deflected off Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester.

The Canadiens have scored six times in the first period and have yet to allow a goal. Montreal has outscored its opponents 23-7, including 11-1 in the third.

Semin extended the lead with his first Montreal goal at 4:52 of the second. The Russian right wing turned around high in the slot and beat Allen with a shot through traffic to make it 2-0.

"The game turned on the second goal," Hitchcock said. "We gave it a big push early, didn't get the lead and they were able to play their flip game when it was 2-0. They just started to flip pucks out and try to take the energy out of us. We kept counter-attacking, but they were content with just flipping it out. The second goal gave them the breath they needed. At one time I think the chances were 10- or 11-2. Their goalie stood tall. He made some great saves early in the game when we were really pushing."

Bouwmeester appeared to have caught Price out of his net on a dump-in later in the period, but the goal was immediately waved off by referee Brian Pochmara, who ruled that the puck had gone out of play when it hit the curved glass at the end of the Blues' bench.

Mitchell scored his second goal at 11:53 of the third.

It was the most shots Montreal has allowed this season; the Canadiens allowed 37 in their season opener, a 3-1 win at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Oct. 7.

The Canadiens won six games in a row three times last season, including their final three regular-season games and their first three Stanley Cup Playoff games. Montreal plays at the Buffalo Sabres on Friday.

"We see one game at a time," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. "It's like when I'm driving my car, I don't look in my mirror [to see] what's going on in the back. I'm watching ahead. So for me, the most important thing was [Tuesday], and now the focus is going to be in Buffalo."

St. Louis hosts the New York Islanders on Saturday.

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