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Price, Canadiens blank Bruins to force Game 7

by Sean Farrell

MONTREAL -- Thomas Vanek and Max Pacioretty finally turned on the offense, Carey Price took care of keeping the puck out of the net, and, as a result, the Montreal Canadiens will get their ninth opportunity to face off against the Boston Bruins in a Game 7.

Price made 26 saves for his first shutout of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and Vanek scored two goals to lead the Canadiens to a 4-0 win in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Bruins on Monday at Bell Centre.

Pacioretty had a goal and an assist, and Lars Eller opened the scoring for the Canadiens, who evened the series at 3-3.

"Obviously, it's big for us to score and get those goals, but I thought tonight what the difference was I think we played well as a team," Vanek said. "Every line played well, our (defense) was great, and [Price] was [Price] back there."

The shutout was the fourth of Price's playoff career, all against the Bruins.

"We played as a unit," Price said. "They competed on every shift, and I thought that was our best effort of the series."

Game 7 is Wednesday in Boston (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS). It will be the ninth time the Bruins and Canadiens have gone the distance in a best-of-7 series, and the fourth time in the teams' past five series since 2004.

"They're a lot of fun," said Price, who has twice faced the Bruins in a Game 7. "That's the whole reason you play the hockey game. That's what you dream of as a kid."

Montreal holds a 24-9 lead in 33 previous playoff series against Boston, including a 19-8 advantage in 27 best-of-7 series.

Tuukka Rask stopped 24 shots for Boston, which has now failed to close out five straight series in which it entered Game 6 on the road with a 3-2 lead.

"We knew they were a tough team," Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said. "They have a lot of character; so do we. So it's about Game 7 now."

The Bruins have played in eight Game 7s since 2008. They are 4-4 in those games.

"You've got to be ready to play them, play your own game," Boston captain Zdeno Chara said.

The Canadiens looked more prepared to play Monday.

Pacioretty made it 2-0 with his second goal of the playoffs, first in six games, at 15:24 of the second period. Defenseman Nathan Beaulieu, who made his Stanley Cup Playoff debut, got an assist on the goal.

Beaulieu flipped the puck to clear the Canadiens zone, and it struck Bruins forward Loui Eriksson's left arm and carried down the ice past Pacioretty at the Boston blue line. Pacioretty outraced Chara for the bouncing puck and swatted a shot between Rask's pads.

"I just got the bounce that I've been needing for a couple of games," Pacioretty said. "Beaulieu made a great stretch pass after a blocked shot. I think it hit two of their defensemen, lands right on my stick, the puck was still wobbling, just swiped at it five-hole. You know, it's a funny game. I'm talking to you guys right now like I just played the best game of my life, but I don't think I played much different from a couple of games in the past."

Pacioretty earned an assist when Vanek scored a power-play goal at 17:39 of the second period to put Montreal up 3-0.

Rask made a sensational sliding save on Rene Bourque early in the third period to temporarily prevent Montreal from going up four goals.

Boston clamored for a goal at 11:05 of the third after a shot dropped behind Price and Canadiens center David Desharnais batted the puck back under the goalie with his right glove. However, a video review upheld the on-ice ruling that the puck had not crossed the goal line.

"The puck's right there and I didn't want it to go in the net, and I just pushed it with my hand," Desharnais said. "I didn't know if they were going to call it a penalty shot or whatever, but I like the chances on Carey on a penalty shot more than a goal right there."

Vanek got his team-leading fifth goal of the playoffs at 16:04 of the third with a shot into a wide open net with Rask on his way to the Boston bench in favor of an extra attacker.

The Bell Centre crowd roared to life when Eller scored at 2:11 of the first period. The Canadiens center took advantage of a Bruins turnover when Boston defenseman Kevan Miller misplayed partner Torey Krug's backhand pass off the boards behind the net.

The puck went off Miller's stick in the right corner straight out into the slot, where Eller went to his backhand to tuck a shot around Rask, who had sprawled to the ice and waved his stick in an attempt to prevent Montreal from grabbing the early 1-0 lead. It was the Danish center's fourth of the playoffs, Montreal's first at even strength in a span of 149:38.

"I've got to make a better play than that," Miller said. "I kind of handcuffed myself, and it bounced out in front, so it's unfortunate."

Rask had better luck later in the period when he made a desperate lunging save with the back of the paddle of his goal stick on Brendan Gallagher's backhand to prevent the Canadiens from taking a two-goal lead.

Gallagher had two quality chances during a Canadiens power play at the beginning of the second period after Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton was called for roughing at the end of the first. He fired the first one wide of the Boston net, and Rask made a left-pad save on the second as Hamilton's penalty expired.

Milan Lucic missed a golden opportunity to draw Boston even in the second when his shot at an open net from the left edge of the crease went through the goal mouth.

The Bruins were exerting intense offensive pressure at that point, shortly after their power play ended following a holding the stick penalty against P.K. Subban. Canadiens defensemen Josh Gorges and Mike Weaver were trapped on the ice for a three-minute shift, and Montreal center Brian Gionta was on for 2:32.

"Well, I mean, we capitalize on our chance there, it's a different game, but we're not frustrated with what happened here today," Lucic said. "We were able to establish some pretty good zone time and stuff like that, and not more to talk about than looking forward to a Game 7."

Lucic misfired on a 2-on-1 pass from David Krejci a little more than a minute into the game. Eriksson fired a shot off the crossbar at 8:47 of the first.

Boston won three of its four previous best-of-7 series at home after failing to close out a 3-2 series lead on the road, including in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Toronto Maple Leafs last season.

"We've been through it, so I've got no doubts in my mind that we [can] get it done," Rask said.

The Bruins also won playoff series against Montreal and the Tampa Bay Lightning under the same circumstances on their way to winning the Stanley Cup in 2011. Boston lost four games in a row to the Philadelphia Flyers, including the decisive game at TD Garden, after taking a 3-0 series lead in the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Beaulieu, who was paired with Weaver, played in favor of defensemen Douglas Murray and Francis Bouillon. Murray played the previous three games after replacing Bouillon, who played Montreal's first six playoff games.

Forward Daniel Briere returned for Montreal after he was left out the lineup for Game 5 on Saturday. Travis Moen was scratched.

Bruins coach Claude Julien used the same lineup for a third straight game.

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