Shutting it down
NEWARK – The Habs decided to change the script against the Devils.
In 30 games so far this season for the Canadiens, 17 have been decided by just one goal – only seven of which have been won by Montreal. Coming out on the winning end of a 2-1 decision on Saturday afternoon, the Habs found out just how fun one-goal games can be.
“If they go in your favor, they’re great,” admitted Carey Price with a grin. “That’s why you play the game, for opportunities like that. I’m just thankful it finally went our way.”
Not surprised to see New Jersey patiently trapping their way through the game, Price and his teammates didn’t come to the Prudential Center expecting a blowout. Deciding to fight fire with fire, they managed to find a way to beat the Devils at their own game.
“That was vintage Devils hockey. They just try to wait you out and wait for you to make a mistake and they usually capitalize on them,” described Price, who kicked aside 28 of the 29 shots he faced. “We were fortunate enough to not make too many of them. We played really solid all night.”
After watching a few third-period leads slip away of late, Max Pacioretty was happy with the way his team closed out Saturday’s game – although he would’ve preferred they do it in less dramatic fashion.
“We’d like it to not be a one-goal game there,” shared Pacioretty, who opened the scoring for the Habs with a power play goal in the second period. “We had some chances in the third to really shut the door, but that will come. We played our best third period with a lead, but there’s still room for improvement.”
Two days after seeing a three-goal lead slip away against the Canucks, Price had a déjà vu moment when Nick Palmieri brought the Devils within one with just under seven minutes to go in the game.
“That’s definitely in the back of your mind because we’ve lost a few leads recently,” shared the All-Star netminder. “You tighten up a little bit but that one tonight was a confidence booster. The guys really rallied around the net and they were trying to box bodies out. We were doing a good job of containing them. The only time they ever got inside was when the puck came over the top of the net – that was really solid defense.”
Not that the Devils didn’t have some good chances to send the Habs to overtime for the fifth time in seven games. With time winding down and Raphael Diaz in the box for roughing, Josh Gorges covered the puck in the crease, resulting in a penalty shot with just 50 seconds left in regulation. A few of the Habs might have been holding their breath as Zach Parise skated out to center ice, but Pacioretty wasn’t one of them.
“That was huge. As soon as they got the penalty shot, they were already celebrating,” shared Pacioretty. “I wasn’t worried at all. When it comes down to it, Carey is always the guy you want in there.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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