Game Preview: Canadiens vs. Coyotes

Posted on 1 February 2015 | Comments Off

Game Preview: Canadiens (32-13-3) vs. Coyotes (17-26-6) The Canadiens will wrap up a busy back-to-back weekend looking for a sixth-straight win opposite the Arizona Coyotes on Super Bowl Sunday. Carey Price is coming off a pair of exceptional outings after blanking both the Rangers and Capitals on Thursday and Saturday, respectively, to tie Patrick Roy for the fifth-most career shutouts registered by a Canadiens goaltender. In addition to another clean sheet for Price most recently, Max Pacioretty was once again the sole goalscorer for the Habs on Saturday, netting the game winner in OT while P.K. Subban picked up an assist on the overtime marker to bring his career points haul to 200 on the play. On the other side of the ice, the Coyotes will be hoping to put their own Saturday afternoon performance behind them on Sunday, after dropping a 7-2 decision to Senators in the nation's capital despite firing 37 shots on goal. Defenseman Zbynek Michalek and forward Sam Gagner were the goalscorers for Arizona while Mike Smith was replaced between the pipes by former Quebec Remparts netminder Louis Domingue after giving up the game's fifth tally. The 22-year-old backup allowed two goals on 11 shots in his NHL debut. The last time Arizona was in town, the Coyotes were bested 3-1 by the Habs as Pacioretty found the back of the net twice while also assisting Andrei Markov in a three-goal final frame. The last time the two teams met in Phoenix, meanwhile, the Habs fell 5-2 in the desert. After just missing the playoffs a season ago, the Coyotes have struggled this year, currently ranked second-last in the Western Conference. Nevertheless, defenseman Keith Yandle will be a player to watch, who despite just four goals this season, remains the team's top scorer with 32 points. In goal, Mike Smith has had a difficult start to the season, posting eight wins and 20 losses with a 3.49 goals against average and a 0.888 save percentage. Following Saturday's disappointing effort in Ottawa, Domingue could get the start against the Habs, marking the Saint-Hyacinthe native's second NHL game. Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien confirmed on Sunday that Dustin Tokarski will get the call opposite the Coyotes. Tokarski, who has often handled netminding duties during the second game of back-to-back sets this season, holds a 5-3-1 record and 0.917 save percentage following nine starts. Therrien also confirmed a number of roster changes, as Gabriel Dumont and Mike Weaver will be in the lineup while Michael Bournival and Sergei Gonchar will not be in uniform. The Habs will hit the ice on Super Bowl Sunday for a 24th time in team history, entering the contest with a 13-9-1 record all-time on the day.

Perfect harmony

Posted on 31 January 2015 | Comments Off

MONTREAL – Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec have something special going right now, and not even the defensive-minded Washington Capitals were going to keep them at bay on Saturday afternoon. Pacioretty chipped a perfect feed from the Czech pivot at the 3:08 mark of overtime past Capitals netminder Braden Holtby to lift the Canadiens to a 1-0 victory at the Bell Centre. It was the second straight game-winning tally for Pacioretty, whose marker extended the Habs’ winning streak to five consecutive games. It was also the first time since February 2010 that Michel Therrien’s troops had managed to best Alex Ovechkin & Co. in their own barn in regular season play. “It could’ve been easier for Pleky just to dump it in and change. We’d been out there for a little bit. But, he delayed there and it looked like the defenseman [Brooks Orpik] backed off a bit. I went from the outside to the inside. As soon as I put my stick down, he knew that we had a lane there,” offered Pacioretty, who now leads the Canadiens with 23 goals and 40 points on the year. “Obviously, it’s a good bounce. Just by going to the net, good things happen. It was a great play by him early on in the play just to give us some time and space to create that goal.” The pair combined to generate 13 of the Canadiens’ 30 total shots on Saturday afternoon, so it was fitting that the dynamic duo’s efforts clicked when the stakes were at their highest in the extra frame. That's been Pacioretty and Plekanec's M.O. since being featured on the same line for the first time seven games ago in Columbus. Since then, they've produced a total of seven goals and 14 points. “I saw him coming. That’s why I held on to the puck as long as possible, to give him time to get to the crease,” mentioned Plekanec, who was the Canadiens’ most-utilized forward against the Capitals, logging 23:21 of ice time, while winning 58 percent of his draws along the way. “I’m happy with the way things went. It was a long shift, but I felt we had one last chance to go for it. That’s why we tried. I just saw the opportunity with all the open ice in front of me.” The goal was particularly satisfying for Pacioretty, who, like the rest of the group, couldn’t find a way to solve Holtby through regulation time despite peppering the Capitals starter with 15 shots in the third period alone. “I felt really bad during the game. Pleky gave me so many opportunities to score and I wasn’t able to put one in for him. We were joking around two nights ago that I couldn’t put one in on an empty net when he gave it to me [in New York]. It feels good to finish off one of his great plays,” mentioned Pacioretty, who sits tied with Lars Eller for the team-lead with five game-winning goals in 2014-15. “We had a lot of them in this game. We’re just thankful we were able to put it in the net in the end.” As was the Bell Centre faithful, who were pleased to see goaltender Carey Price rewarded for another outstanding effort between the pipes. The 27-year-old turned aside 36 shots to register his fourth shutout of the season. It was the 29th time Price had blanked the opposition over the course of his career, enabling him to join Hall-of-Famer Patrick Roy in fifth spot on the Canadiens’ all-time shutout list. “He’s amazing. He’s so humble. He just comes to the rink and does his job. A guy like that doesn’t have to open his mouth once to be the best leader on this team. The way he shows up, the way he handles himself, the way he carries himself, he’s the backbone of this team,” praised Pacioretty, who watched Price record his first set of back-to-back shutout performances since November 2011. “We left him out to dry during spurts of that game, but at the end of the day we played a pretty good grinding game. We’re trying to play well in front of him defensively. We know our goals are going to come once we get a few bounces. We’re thankful we have him back there every game.” Price will be the first one to tell you, however, that from his vantage point Saturday afternoon’s win was a byproduct of a total team effort, one that ended with the Canadiens picking up their 32nd win of the campaign. “We definitely competed for the whole game. It seemed like Washington did the exact same thing. It was important that we didn’t let up at any point. I thought our compete level was there the whole time,” offered Price, who now boasts a 27-10-2 record, a 2.03 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage in 39 starts this season. “We’re all making contributions. It’s a team sport. Guys are doing their part. I’m relying on the guys around me and they’re relying on me. Right now, we’ve got a perfect harmony going.” Well said, Carey. Very well said. Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.

The Numbers Game – January 31, 2015

Posted on 31 January 2015 | Comments Off

MONTREAL - Here's a numerical look at Saturday's game between the Canadiens and the Capitals at the Bell Centre. 24 – Number of times the Canadiens have participated in the playing of the Super Bowl two-game weekend, including the 2015 edition which features matchups against the Washington Capitals and the Arizona Coyotes. Since the 1990-91 campaign, Michel Therrien’s troops boast a record of 24-17-4-1 (.576) on one of the biggest sports weekends of the calendar year. 1 – Number of times the Canadiens have played back-to-back games on home ice during the 2014-15 campaign, with Saturday afternoon’s tilt against the Washington Capitals marking the start of their first back-to-back set at the Bell Centre after being forced to make travel arrangements for the 10 previous sets they’ve already played this season. 416 – Number of points defenseman Sergei Gonchar amassed in 654 career regular season games as a member of the Washington Capitals between 1994 and 2004. Gonchar, who was Washington's 1st round selection, 14th overall, back in 1992, scored 144 goals and added 272 assists during his tenure of 10 seasons in the District of Columbia. 17 – Number of saves Carey Price made in the second period alone on Saturday afternoon, showcasing outstanding form particularly while the Canadiens found themselves in short-handed situations, including down two men at one point during the frame. 6 – Number of hits defenseman P.K. Subban distributed against the Capitals on Saturday afternoon, a season-high for the Norris Trophy-winning rearguard who previously dished out five hits on December 5 against the Blackhawks in Chicago. 6 – Number of shots Canadiens forward Christian Thomas amassed on Saturday afternoon against the Capitals, a new career-high for the 22-year-old Toronto native. Thomas, who now has nine career NHL regular season games under his belt, has played six games with the Canadiens this season. 2– Number of goals the Canadiens and the Capitals have combined to score in regulation time during their two meetings thus far in 2014-15. After the Canadiens downed the Capitals 2-1 in a shootout on October 9, the Bell Centre faithful was privy to a goaltending duel that ended 1-0 in extra time in favour of Montreal. 5 – With his 29th career shutout, Carey Price joined Patrick Roy for 5th spot on the Canadiens' all-time shutout list. 200 – P.K. Subban registered his 200th career point by picking up an assist on Max Pacioretty's goal. - canadiens.com

Game Preview: Canadiens vs. Capitals

Posted on 31 January 2015 | Comments Off

CANADIENS (31-13-3) VS. CAPITALS (25-14-9) The Canadiens will kick off their traditional set of back-to-back Super Bowl weekend games when they play host to the Washington Capitals at the Bell Centre on Saturday afternoon. Michel Therrien’s troops will go in search of a fifth straight victory after besting the New York Rangers 1-0 on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden. Max Pacioretty scored the game-winning tally with less than five minutes remaining in the third period. It was his 22nd goal of the season. It was also the Canadiens’ first regulation-time win in Manhattan since October 28, 2013. True to form, Carey Price stopped every shot fired in his direction. The Anahim Lake, BC native made 24 saves to pick up his 26th win and third shutout of the 2014-15 campaign. For their part, the Capitals got back on track in their most recent outing, posting a 4-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday. That snapped Washington’s four-game losing streak. Alex Ovechkin led the way, scoring his 28th and 29th goals of the season, while Braden Holtby picked up his 23rd win of the year by recording his fifth shutout. He sits second in the league in that department among all NHL goaltenders. The Canadiens have struggled against the Capitals at the Bell Centre in recent years. Therrien’s squad hasn’t registered a win over Washington in regular season play since February 10, 2010, going 0-7-0 during that span. The Habs did, however, post a 2-1 shootout win over Ovechkin & Co. back in October. Following practice on Friday, the Canadiens' bench boss confirmed that Price would get the start in goal against the Capitals on Saturday afternoon. It will be his fourth consecutive start. Washington will likely counter with Braden Holtby between the pipes. Therrien, however, did not indicate if he would be featuring any lineup changes from the tilt against New York up front or on the back end. This year will mark the 24th time in team history that the Canadiens will be playing back-to-back afternoon tilts on Super Bowl weekend. The Habs boast an 11-8-3-1 record on Saturdays during the NFL's top weekend.

Change is good

Posted on 30 January 2015 | Comments Off

BROSSARD – While playing back-to-back afternoon games over Super Bowl weekend might be something some teams frown upon, the Canadiens are wholeheartedly embracing the opportunity to mix things up a little. On Saturday, Michel Therrien’s troops will entertain the Washington Capitals at 1 p.m. EST before battling the Arizona Coyotes at the same time on Sunday. It will mark the 24th time in team history that the Canadiens will contest two games in as many days ahead of the NFL’s biggest event of the year. The Habs boast an 11-8-3-1 record in the opening game of the weekend set, and a 13-9-1-0 record in the second. “It’s two afternoon games. There’s no real excuse [for playing poorly]. We all like playing afternoon games. You wake up, get ready for the game and you go. There’s not much thinking involved. We want to try and build off the last game against New York. Personally, I like these games. Hopefully, I can prove it now,” offered Max Pacioretty, who scored the game-winning goal in the Habs’ 1-0 shutout win over the Rangers on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden. “Sometimes, the game day routine gets a bit too boring. You do the same thing every time. It’s nice to change it up.” That was the clear consensus inside the Canadiens’ locker room as the club wrapped up practice on Friday afternoon at the Bell Sports Complex, looking to extend their current winning streak to five straight games. “Some guys like it, but some guys don’t. It messes up your regular routine. I really like it, though. You just get up in the morning and get going for the game. You get one good meal in you and go play. It takes you back to your minor hockey days. Regardless of the time, you’re just expected to show up and play the game. That’s the part I like about it,” explained Brendan Gallagher, who will be watching Sunday’s Patriots-Seahawks matchup alongside his dad, Ian, a devout New England supporter. “There’s just less preparation that goes into it. It’s hockey. You rely on your instincts. It makes it a little bit more enjoyable waking up that way.” Like his players, Therrien admits that while scenarios like these can be somewhat uncomfortable, it’s ultimately a level playing field for all involved. “It’s an adjustment for everybody, but it’s the same for both teams. We have to adjust, so do they. Things happen fast when it comes to afternoon games. It takes everyone out of their comfort zone,” offered Therrien, whose squad is set to play its 11th set of back-to-back games during the 2014-15 campaign and first entirely on home ice. “The thing that’s great about it, though, is that it gives an opportunity for young kids to come to the Bell Centre. I’ve been with this organization for a few years. It’s always a fun atmosphere over Super Bowl weekend.” The Capitals, however, will undoubtedly be looking to spoil what should be a festive atmosphere on Saturday afternoon. Barry Trotz’s contingent snapped a four-game losing streak with a 4-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night at the Verizon Center, and they enter the game having won the last seven meetings with the Canadiens in front of the Bell Centre faithful dating back to March 2011 – four by way of a shutout. “They’re always really tough to play against. For whatever reason, they’re a big strong team and they’re fast. We haven’t really opened up the scoring against them as long as I can remember,” mentioned Pacioretty, who leads the Canadiens with 39 points, a plus-23 differential and 171 shots on goal through 47 games this season. “We’ve got to remember to stay with it and grind for 60 minutes. It’s going to be a game where we have to be patient, wait for our opportunities and take advantage of them when they come.” They’ll also have to stymie the likes of Alex Ovechkin, who took over the top spot in the league in goals with his 28th and 29th markers of the year in the win over Pittsburgh. “I think he’s obviously someone who’s very dangerous. You have to pay attention to him. We’ve certainly played against top-end players before. We know how to handle it. It just takes a little bit more preparation,” concluded Gallagher, who is still looking to pick up his first career point against the Capitals. “He’s a guy that you have to focus on and you can’t forget. It’s just something that we have to be aware of. You don’t change too much, but you keep him in mind.” Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.

Feels like April

Posted on 30 January 2015 | Comments Off

NEW YORK – Last spring’s Montreal-New York playoff series may have ended 245 days ago, but don’t tell that to the Canadiens or Rangers. Snow still lined the streets in downtown Manhattan following a short-lived late-January blizzard, but inside Madison Square Garden, any puck purist could have sworn spring hockey was being played. “That was a playoff game. We were grinding. We put pucks in deep and they did the same. We play a very similar game to them – definitely fast paced – but tight-checking as well,” noted Max Pacioretty, whose lone marker late in the third turned out to be the game-winner between two teams who frankly were not very fond of one another. “We liked the way we played, so we’ve got to build off of that now and keep going.” After making his mark with Montreal during the playoffs with seven postseason points a year ago, the vibe at MSG was a familiar one for Dale Weise. “I think these are two teams who are really starting to dislike each other, starting from last year in the playoffs and continuing to a couple of games this year,” described the crafty forward, who finished the game with four shots on goal as well as an assist, not to mention a scoring chance which needed to be reviewed by the NHL command center in Toronto before finally being disallowed. “But those are the kinds of games we like to play. I think they let our true character show, and I really liked the contributions from everyone tonight.” Despite the hostile environment which saw 26 minutes worth of penalties dished out in the opening frame alone, there was in fact lots to like on Thursday, starting not just with Carey Price, but also those in front of him. While the 27-year-old netminder turned in another All-Star performance to preserve the win after Pacioretty broke the deadlock, the Canadiens also allowed just 24 shots on goal to a Rangers team which entered the game averaging the fourth-most in the league. “The guys played very well tonight,” praised Price of his lighter-than-usual workload, after previously turning aside 76 of 79 shots over his last two starts. “We also got pretty lucky out there a few times, and that’s just part of the game.” Which is why following what turned out to be a goaltenders’ duel to the finish between two of the very best in the world, Price was nevertheless quick to credit the work of each of his teammates on the ice. “Those are the types of games you want to be able to win as a team,” continued the Canadiens’ All-Star, who has now racked up 26 wins in just 38 starts this season. “It’s fun to win a game 6-5, but if we want to be successful, we’ve got to be able to bear down on those low-scoring, tight-checking games, and tonight we were the team that got the two points.” Although Thursday’s win didn’t quite erase the memories of last year’s Game 6 elimination at the historic New York arena, it did prove that the Habs can now not only beat anyone, but also anywhere. “We haven’t had as much success in this building as we would have liked, so it was important for us to come in here and play a good road game. Last time we came here they outplayed us big time and we obviously didn’t like our result in the playoffs either,” admitted Pacioretty after snapping his team’s three game slide at MSG to pick up just a sixth win in the Big Apple since February 27, 2007. “But we felt pretty good tonight and we’ll use that to our advantage the next time we’re here.” Which may just be in April for real. Steven Nechay is a writer for canadiens.com

The Numbers Game – January 29, 2015

Posted on 30 January 2015 | Comments Off

NEW YORK - Here's a numerical look at Thursday's game between the Canadiens and Rangers at Madison Square Garden. 4 – Number of former Rangers who suited up for the Canadiens on Thursday, as Manny Malhotra, Brandon Prust, Christian Thomas and Dale Weise were all back on the ice in their one-time home. With Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau also on the Canadiens roster but sidelined with a concussion, ex-Blueshirts currently have the largest representation in Montreal of any of the other 28 NHL teams. 21,4 – Percentage of career shut outs goaltender Carey Price has registered at the Rangers’ expense, with six of his 28 total clean sheets having come opposite the Original Six franchise. 10 – Number of penalties doled out by referees Steve Kozari and Brad Watson during a hotly-contested first period between last spring’s playoff foes, as the Canadiens and Rangers combined for 26 total penalty minutes in the opening frame. 5 – Number of times Brandon Prust has now dropped the gloves opposite Tanner Glass following Thursday’s first period bout, moving the Rangers forward into a three-way tie with Cam Janssen and Zac Rinaldo as Prust’s most common career sparring mates. 88 – Lars Eller’s faceoff efficiency percentage after two periods at MSG, as the Danish centerman won seven of his first eight draws across three different zones. 7 – Number of shots registered on goal through two periods by the Pacioretty-Plekanec-Weise line. The two wingers fired off a trio of shots each across 40 minutes of play while Weise tested Lundqvist with a scoring chance that eventually needed to be reviewed by the NHL command center in Toronto. - canadiens.com

Game Preview: Canadiens @ Rangers

Posted on 29 January 2015 | Comments Off

CANADIENS (30-13-3) @ RANGERS (27-14-4) The Canadiens will try to put an end to their three-game losing streak at Madison Square Garden on Thursday night when they take on one of the league’s hottest teams – the New York Rangers. Since Alain Vigneault’s squad handed the Canadiens a 5-0 loss back on November 23, the Rangers have won 18 of their last 25 games to sit third in the Metropolitan Division, just four points back of the second-place Pittsburgh Penguins. Head coach Michel Therrien should be featuring the same lineup that bested the Dallas Stars 3-2 at the Bell Centre on Tuesday night. It remains uncertain whether or not Gabriel Dumont will be in the lineup after being called up from the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs following Tuesday night’s win. Therrien will likely make a decision on Dumont’s playing status on Thursday morning. Carey Price, who is coming off a 40-save performance against the Stars, should make his third consecutive start in goal for the Canadiens. Henrik Lundqvist will get the call between the pipes for New York. The Swedish netminder has found his game after a sub-par start to the year. He boasts a .920 save percentage and a 2.30 goals-against average in 36 starts. Up front, the Canadiens will have to pay close attention to Rick Nash, who currently sits tied for the league lead with 28 goals alongside Tyler Seguin. The Canadiens haven’t won at Madison Square Garden since Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals last spring. The Habs did, however, down the Rangers 3-1 in their only meeting at the Bell Centre this season back on October 25.

Making it four

Posted on 28 January 2015 | Comments Off

BROSSARD – If the Canadiens are planning on extending their current winning streak to four straight games, they’re going to have to do it in a building that hasn’t been kind to them as of late. Back on November 23, Michel Therrien’s troops lost their third straight game to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden dating back to last season’s Eastern Conference Finals series. The latest defeat in the Big Apple was particularly hard to swallow as the Canadiens dropped a 5-0 decision to the Blueshirts, while being outshot by a 34-21 margin along the way. On Thursday night, however, the Habs fully intend on exorcising their MSG demons by sticking to what has worked for them all season long – matching their opponent’s strengths and keeping things as simple as possible from start to finish. “It’s been a building that we haven’t had that much success in, so for us going there I think we’re going to be motivated. We went there earlier in the year, and things didn’t go very well. We didn’t put together a very good effort. We want to bounce back and improve on that. Certainly, when we go there we’ve got to have that mindset that it’s going to be a very challenging game,” offered Brendan Gallagher, who scored the game-winning goal in the Canadiens’ 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night in Montreal. “They play with speed. They make it tough on us. They pressure our D a lot, so as forwards we’ve got to help them out as much as we can. We’ve got to be prepared to play that fast-paced game. That’s the way we want to play.” And, that’s the way they’ll have to play against the likes of Rangers forwards Rick Nash, Martin St. Louis, Derick Brassard and Derek Stepan, all of whom are capable of not only lighting the lamp, but creating one scoring opportunity after another, too. “They’re a fast team. They play a lot like we do. They like to grind down teams and chip in pucks and play hard on the forecheck, so whenever we play teams similar to us, I think it’s always fun and it’s always a fast game,” mentioned Max Pacioretty, who has five goals and nine points in 19 regular season games against New York over the course of his NHL career. “We’ve got some motivation after putting up some poor performances in the playoffs there, so hopefully we can play well at MSG and feel good in that building as opposed to the way we did in in postseason.” There’s no denying just how good the Rangers have been in recent weeks. Alain Vigneault’s contingent has lost just twice in the month of January and they’ve come out on the wrong side of the scoresheet just four times in their last 20 games, including Tuesday night’s 4-1 loss to the Eastern Conference-leading New York Islanders on Long Island. “On Thursday night, we’re going up against one of the best teams in the NHL. They went to the Stanley Cup Finals last season. On Tuesday, they lost to the Islanders, but they still put up 40 shots on goal. They’re tough to play against and they’re playing good hockey,” explained Therrien, who has yet to decide whether or not call-up Gabriel Dumont will get his first taste of NHL action during the 2014-15 campaign against New York. “This is going to be a real challenge for us.” Fortunately, the Canadiens aren’t making too much of the fact that they’ve struggled at the ‘World’s Most Famous Arena’ since last summer. In short, Thursday night’s game is just another opportunity to pick up an all-important two points in the standings, and stay on the winning track heading into a set of back-to-back games at home during Super Bowl Weekend. “I know when we went into Philly earlier in the year and we won, that was the first time we’d won there in a really long time. I think teams just go on little runs and when it happens over and over again, it does become a bit of a mental battle and you start to think about it. But, for the most part, there’s really no logical explanation for it. It shouldn’t be any different for us,” concluded Gallagher, who has four points in his last five games. “It’s just another road building, so to go into New York, it’s just about executing a game plan. We know that they always do. They always play fast. We’ve got to be prepared to play that style of hockey.” Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.

Shake it off

Posted on 28 January 2015 | Comments Off

MONTREAL – Even a little vacation rust couldn’t stop the Habs from picking up two points against the Stars. Having gone their separate ways to relax and recharge during the All-Star break, the Canadiens were back at the Bell Centre looking to pick up where they had left off a week earlier. Like any vacationers returning to work after a few days away from the office, the Habs took some time to hit their collective stride from a productivity standpoint on Tuesday night. Luckily, kicking aside quality shots from All-Stars is nothing new to Carey Price, who spent the weekend in Columbus doing exactly that. “Carey was solid for us again. We still scored three goals, which is a good sign, but you could tell it was the first game after a five-day break,” admitted head coach Michel Therrien, whose team was outshot by a 42-26 margin in the game, but still came away with a 3-2 win. “Our execution wasn’t there. At times, our concentration wasn’t there, either. “The power play gave us a goal, which ended up being the difference in the game,” he added. “But in the third you could see that our focus wasn’t there on the power play, like in the rest of our game.” Enjoying a rejuvenated power play of late, having now gone 5-for-12 in the last three games, the Habs leaned heavily on special teams against the Stars. In addition to potting the game-winning goal with the man advantage, the league’s fifth-ranked penalty kill unit faced two 5-on-3 Stars power plays in the game – including one in the final five minutes – all without the services of Alexei Emelin, whose night ended with a game misconduct penalty in the second period. “Collectively as a group, they have some really good shooters on that team. It’s tough because they can find lanes to make plays,” described P.K. Subban, who played 29:04 against the Stars, including 4:30 on the kill. “When they were getting ready to shoot, we did a good job getting in those lanes. Carey was great. I’ve said it before, but he’s doing exactly what we need him to do every night and that’s stop the puck. It seems that even when he shouldn’t be making the saves, he makes them.” Before pucks even have a chance to mark up Price’s pads these days, his teammates have been doing everything they can to keep them away from the four-time All-Star. “We have guys who are willing to block shots and that’s probably the biggest thing about it, that we’re getting in lanes and we’re willing to pay the price,” underlined Price, whose teammates have blocked 795 shots this season, good enough for fourth in the league in that category. Earning first-star honors in his first game back from the break, Price was happy to see a tighter defensive system in front of him than the one that led to a 17-12 win for Team Toews over Team Foligno at the NHL All-Star Game on Sunday. Facing over 40 shots on Tuesday for just the second time this season, he wouldn’t mind seeing a little less rubber going forward, but his approach is the same no matter how many pucks are fired in his direction. “It’s a cliché, but I take it one shot at a time and worry about the next one that’s coming at me. I just try to keep it simple,” he said. “We want to play good hockey. We want to be out-shooting and out-chancing our opponents as much as possible, but sometimes a team is going to come out hot and that team played very well tonight. “There were several times out there where my defensemen totally bailed me out,” added Price. “That’s what it’s all about: I’m there for them, and they’re there for me.” Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com

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