Seven nation army
Arriving in a rink where they have had little success in recent years, the Canadiens were hard-pressed to deliver a complete performance against the squad that bounced them from the playoffs last spring. The game started well enough for the Habs, who turned the tables on the Sens on a four-on-five penalty kill. Tomas Plekanec took a slick feed from Travis Moen at his own blueline, jetted away from his pursuers and wasted no time in putting his team up by one. By the 16-minute mark, Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais had also lit the lamp, putting the visiting team up 3-0.
“I know he’s my teammate, but I challenge you to find a better goaltender in the NHL right now. There are good goalies out there, but he’s the best. You only need to look at the replays of all the incredible saves he made,” raved P.K. Subban, who will be going to Sochi alongside Price as a member of Team Canada.
“He was incredible like every other night. We just had to win it for him,” added Desharnais, who shook off lingering flu symptoms to post a two-point first period.
Fortunately, the Habs came out of the second intermission with a purpose, playing a far more organized and disciplined game to stay with the Senators before Plekanec went in all alone again.
“[Plekanec] is a big part of our team, he’s a great player at both ends of the rink. He doesn’t take any shifts off out there; he’s relentless,” stated Price, who saw his teammate briefly leave the ice in the first period with an apparent leg injury before returning having missed just a couple of shifts.
Despite having his initial shot stopped by Craig Anderson, the Czech center would soon celebrate his second goal of the night when Jared Cowen, the backchecking Ottawa defender, kicked the puck into his own net. By the time the extra period rolled around, the Canadiens were on a mission.
“I don’t think anything needed to be said [after the third period],” remarked Price shortly after Subban scored the game-winner 23 seconds into the extra frame. “We’ve got a lot of leadership in this room, a lot of experience. Everybody realized that our effort wasn’t good enough, and we took it upon ourselves to make it right.”
“It’s one of the best feelings you can have, to score a few goals and bail out your goaltender. You saw what happens when we deviate from our game. It took Carey to bail us out. He did that tonight, and we hope he won’t have to do it again,” acknowledged Pacioretty, who scored on his lone shot of the night.
“It’s my job to make saves and give us a chance to win,” countered Price. “I tried my best out there to keep it close, and the guys came back with a good 20 minutes in the third period. Then we took advantage of our opportunity [in overtime].”
With his 17th 40-save performance under his belt, Montreal’s first star closed off by giving a stick-tap to a number of loyal Habs fans who made the trek to Kanata to cheer on their team.
“We have a lot of fans in this part of Canada, so it was nice to see them out.”
Jack Han is a writer for canadiens.com