MONTREAL - Much has been made of how the Montreal Canadiens don't rely quite as much on star goalie Carey Price this season, but for a period and a half against the St. Louis Blues he had to be the man.
Price made a season-high 38 saves, including 17 in the opening period, to post his second shutout in the last three games as the Canadiens downed the Blues 3-0 on Tuesday night. Montreal extended its club-record winning streak to start the season to seven games.
The save of the game was a spectacular glove effort early in the second frame on Blues star Vladimir Tarasenko, who was held off the scoresheet for the first time this season.
"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 it," Price said. "But any time you can come up with the right save at the right time it's helpful.
"We had a little bit of a slow first period, but being able to come out with a lead, we were able to regroup in the first intermission."
The Blues dominated the opening period but the Canadiens came out with the lead on a goal from captain Max Pacioretty. Off-season signing Alex Semin opened his Montreal account in the second frame and Torrey Mitchell scored in the third on Jake Allen, who made 33 saves.
The Blues (5-2-0) ended a four-game winning streak. But they finished a six-game road trip with a solid four wins and a pair of defeats.
"I liked the way our team played during this road trip," said Blues forward Alex Steen, whose team opens a five-game homestand Saturday against the New York Islanders. "Even tonight I thought we took steps forward.
"We lost, but our start was really good. We had great legs. We made plays. We got great looks on Carey. We just didn't have that last finish."
Price, the league's most valuable player and top goaltender last season, has allowed only six goals in six starts. It was the 36th shutout of his career.
He posted a 25-save shutout against the New York Rangers on Oct. 15 and allowed one goal on 22 shots in a 4-1 win over Detroit on Saturday night to earn NHL first star of the week honours.
"It's tough to say anything about Carey because everybody knows how valuable he is and what he brings every game," said Pacioretty. "I sound like a broken record, but we have to keep this thing going and hope we don't have to rely on him as much as we did tonight."
Pacioretty got the opening goal at 18:27 of the first. Tomas Plekanec's shot went off Jay Bouwmeester's skate and off Pacioretty, who was skating across the front of the net, before sliding past Allen.
Semin scored on a spin-around wrist shot from the slot 16:04 into the second. Mitchell put a P.K. Subban rebound into an open side 11:53 into the third.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock had high praise for Montreal, especially Mitchell's checking line.
"This is the best checking team we've played against," he said. "They use their fourth line to check our top players.
"They did a hell of a job. This is a well coached, disciplined, play-the-game-the-right-way team. They're going to be a bear all year for everyone."
All of the Canadiens' wins have been in regulation time.
They went unbeaten (7-0-1) in eight games to start the 1961-62 campaign and have a chance to match that when they play the Sabres in Buffalo on Friday night.