Montreal Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban scored the evening's first goal with a wrist shot on the power play and wired home another with the man advantage to end the game in the second overtime.
In between, it was all Canadiens goalkeeper Carey Price. The cool customer from Anahim Lake, B.C., was the primary reason why the Canadiens cashed in to win their second-round playoff opener, 4-3 in double-overtime
against the rival Bruins in Boston on Thursday.
The 26-year-old Price held his team in early on. He was the reason the Bruins didn't skate away with the game in the second and third periods and he was a perfect 15 for 15 in the two overtime periods for a memorable 48-save performance.
"Listen, it was a great team effort. But without Carey Price I don't know if we were in this game," said Subban, whose game winner through a screen from pint-sized Montreal forward Brendan Gallagher and over-sized Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara to beat Boston goalie Tuukka Rask four minutes and 17 seconds into the second extra period.
Price's play was just another outstanding chapter in his bounce-back season. It was a year ago that he finished the regular season in abysmal form and he was even worse in an early first-round exit against the Ottawa Senators.
It was an off two months for the goalie with the golden reputation. He burst onto the scene to help Canada win the 2007 world juniors and, a few months later, steered the Canadiens' AHL team in Hamilton to the Calder Cup.
Price appeared to be on his way in Stanley Cup playoff success when he won his first series, a seven-game decision over the Bruins in 2008. Yet despite some stellar regular seasons, Price didn't win another playoff round until the Habs swept the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round this spring.'We found a way'
Part of Price's improved play is his maturation and part was in the hiring of a new goaltending coach in Stephane Waite. His employment was the brainchild of Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin. The two worked together in Chicago, where Waite helped a pair of Blackhawk goalies in Antti Niemi and Corey Crawford win Stanley Cups in 2009-10 and last year, respectively.
Waite not only worked on Price's technique this season, including his battle when under siege, but improved his mental skills as well. He exhibited just how good he could be with his gold-medal effort at the Olympic Games in Sochi.
Price always has appeared calm, cool and collected on the surface. But he did, occasionally, let a bad goal or a bad game bother him.
He has been unflappable under Waite. He now has won five in a row in the post-season and has gone 13-5-0 since he returned from a post-Olympic lower-body ailment.
"Carey Price was outstanding. But there were some positives," said Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien, who saw his team strike for two power-play goals.
"We played as a team that looked like it had 10 days off. But we found a way."'We competed all game'
Both teams were coming off lengthy layoffs. Not to split hairs, Michel, but the Canadiens had nine days off to the Bruins' five. It was important for Montreal to survive the Bruins early onslaught. And it did. In fact, Subban's first-period goal was followed by another from Rene Bourque early in the second period for a 2-0 lead.
The Bruins stormed back to tie the game twice at 2-2 and 3-3 to push the game into overtime. It was a night for defencemen as five of the seven goals were scored by blue liners.
Boston also dominated on draws, as the Bruins usually do, winning 51 of 88 faceoffs. On the game-winning goal, however, veteran centre Tomas Plekanec beat Boston's usually dependable draw man Patrice Bergeron on the faceoff.
Now the trick is for the two teams to get ready for an early 12:30 p.m. ET start at TD Garden on Saturday (CBC, CBCSports.ca). The Bruins outhit their opponents 56-45 and had 98 shot attempts (51 on net, 30 missed, including two posts, 17 blocked).
"We competed all game and that's what we've done all playoffs," Price said. "We're a little tired, but we'll get some rest and we'll be ready."Follow Tim Wharnsby on Twitter @WharnsbyCBC
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