Price, Gionta star in Habs victory
- Price snaps playoff winless streak
- Gionta scores both goals
- Habs pounce on Bruins giveaways
Carey Price saw the puck much better Thursday night than he did a year ago from the Montreal bench.
The Canadiens goalie posted his third postseason shutout after starting just one of his team's 19 playoff games last season, Brian Gionta scored twice and Montreal opened the series with a 2-0 win over the Boston Bruins.
"If we were able to write down on paper how we would have wanted to start the series this would have been it," Price said.
The tall netminder stopped 31 shots, few of them challenging and most with no Bruins in the slot to block his view.
"You need to take away his vision," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "We were all around the net but we weren't in front."
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Saturday night in Boston (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 6:30 p.m. ET).
Price was a spectator for most of last year's playoffs, watching Jaroslav Halak carry the Canadiens to the Eastern Conference final where they lost to the Philadelphia Flyers.
This season Price started 70 games and on Thursday he turned aside 31 shots. He had lost his previous eight starts in the playoffs.
"He was our most valuable player in the regular season and he gave us a chance to win every night," Montreal coach Jacques Martin said.
Gionta scored at 2:45 of the first period on a pass from Scott Gomez from the left boards. Gionta and Matthew Darche both got behind the Bruins defence with Darche directly in front of goalie Tim Thomas and Gionta on the right side of the crease. Darche let the puck go by and Gionta put it in between Thomas and the post.
"I didn't know there was a guy at the back door," Thomas said. "I was playing the guy in front and it looked like he was the one that was going to pick it off, and by the time I realized that it got through him and over to Gionta he made a quick shot. If he holds it a half second more I can get over there."
Gomez also assisted on Gionta's other goal at 16:42 of the third period.
"Anytime in the playoffs you can take one on the road and it's the first one, that's big," Gomez said.
The game was played cleanly without any fights between the teams that had several physical confrontations during the regular season.
In Boston's 8-6 win at home on Feb. 9 there were 45 penalties for 182 minutes. On March 8 in Montreal, the Canadiens won 4-1, a victory overshadowed by Zdeno Chara's hard hit that drove Max Pacioretty into a stanchion between the team's benches. Pacioretty suffered a severe concussion and a cracked vertebra. Chara was penalized but not suspended by the NHL and Montreal police announced an investigation.
It was a disappointing playoff start for the Bruins after a disastrous end to their post-season last year. They won the first three games over the Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals, but Philadelphia forced a seventh game in which they rallied from a 3-0 deficit for a 4-3 victory.
One of the Bruins best stretches Thursday came after killing a penalty midway through the second period. They fired numerous shots at Price, few of them challenging and several stopped by Montreal players before reaching the net.
At 11:45 of the period, Patrice Bergeron had a clear shot from 15 feet out but put it into Price's midsection.
Price's outstanding performance was a major change from his last two games in Boston in which he allowed 13 goals. He let in all of Boston's goals in the 8-6 game and five in a 7-0 loss on March 24. And he was the losing goalie in all four games in the opening playoff round in 2009 when Boston swept Montreal.
Things that happen in the regular season don't necessarily happen in the playoffs because it costs a lot more," Price said. "Teams are playing differently."
Boston's poor power play continued in the first game of the post-season. They were ranked 20th in the regular season, scoring on 16.2 per cent of their power play opportunities.
The Bruins may have lost home ice advantage in the series but it's just one defeat, according to their captain.
"Who said it was frustrating?" Chara said. "I think we did a lot of good things. We just couldn't score a goal."
With files from CBCSports.ca