Montreal's forwards once again struggled but — lucky for the Canadiens — Carey Price was his usual brilliant self.
The rookie goalie made 27 saves to earn his first career playoff shutout with a 1-0 road win over the Boston Bruins Tuesday night in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference quarter-final.
Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price has stopped 54 of the last 55 shots his faces against the Bruins in the first round of the playoffs.
(Charles Krupa/Associated Press)
The Canadiens lead the best-of-seven series 3-1. Game 5 goes Thursday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7 pm ET) in Montreal, where the Bruins haven't won in six games this season.
Price became the first Habs rookie to earn a shutout in the playoffs since Patrick Roy did it in the 1986 Stanley Cup finals.
Patrice Brisebois scored the lone goal for the Habs during a power play late in the second period.
Boston stole Montreal's momentum with a 2-1 overtime victory in Game 3 on Sunday, but the Bruins now find themselves on the brink of elimination and they have Price to thank for that.
The Canadiens netminder is only 20 years old but he's playing with all the poise and maturity of a veteran, having stopped 54 of the last 55 shots he's faced against Boston.
Price has had to brilliant because goals have dried up for Montreal. After scoring seven goals in games 1 and 2, the Canadiens have been held to a goal in each of the last two contests in the series.
The young goalie was given the puck after the game to keep as a momento in recognition for his first playoff shutout, but he didn't seem too excited about his special accomplishment.
The puck will "probably wind up in a box with everything else, or probably at my parents' house somewhere," Price told Hockey Night in Canada.
Canadiens head coach Guy Carbonneau juggled his lines Tuesday in an attempt to give his team a spark. Winger Michael Ryder was scratched in favour of rookie defenceman Ryan O'Byrne, while blue-liner Mark Streit played on the wing.
Guillaume Latendresse took Ryder's spot on a line with Christopher Higgins and Sergei Kostitsyn, but nothing was working. Carbonneau tried all sorts of line combinations, but to no avail.
Boston comes out on fire
Boston goalie Tim Thomas, who was celebrating his 34th birthday, made 28 stops in a losing effort.
Still brimming with confidence from their victory in Game 3, Boston came out on fire from the opening faceoff and immediately forced Montreal back on their heels.
Marco Sturm nearly opened the scoring midway through the frame when Price rushed out of his net. Sturm won the race to the puck and had an open net, but his shot from inside the circle whispered past the post.
"I was trying to get out there, but I hesitated a little bit. If you're gonna go you gotta go, and I hesitated a bit. He got to it first and I just tried to get my stick on his stick and it made him shoot it wide," Price told HNIC.
Sturm then turned playmaker on a Bruins power play when he rushed down the wing and fed a perfect cross-ice pass to David Krejci, who put the puck wide of the open Canadiens net.
Boston continued to go at Montreal in the second period, and the game quickly erupted into an end-to-end affair with both teams carving out scoring chances.
It was the Habs, though, who finally broke the deadlock with 42 seconds left in the period while on the power play. Brisebois collected the puck off a broken play and ripped a slapshot that breezed over Thomas's shoulder, clanked off the crossbar and lodged in the back of the net.
Boston pressed for the equalizer in the third period and pegged the Habs back behind their blue-line in the final minute of regulation.
The Bruins pulled Thomas in favour of an extra skater and were swarming around the net, but they made too many cute passes and didn't really test Price, allowing the Habs to leave town with the win and a commanding 3-1 series lead.