Montreal Canadiens: Carey Price did what the Pittsburgh Penguins feared he would

TORONTO, ONTARIO - AUGUST 01: Brett Kulak #77 of the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - AUGUST 01: Brett Kulak #77 of the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens took the series lead after Jeff Petr ended the game in overtime, and a lot of the praise should go to Carey Pric.

When the NHL was going through its initial voting process for the Return to Play Plan, which detailed a 24-team playoff format, not every team was pleased with it. The Tampa Bay Lightning for one weren’t a fan of the fact that the competitiveness between Round-Robin and Play-In games were going to be different while other teams were wary of the number of games needed to play throughout the tournament. However, when it came to the Montreal Canadiens being included in format, one name came up consistently: Carey Price.

But it’s a different kind of Carey Price that could be a game-changer. The 32-year-old hasn’t led stats at his position in a long time despite still having the clout as being the league’s best goaltender. Injuries, the Habs’ poor defence and fatigue consistently got in the way of Price re-reaching that 2014 status again.

Price getting four months of rest ahead of these games was terrifying to most teams. All you have to do is win three games and asking him to steal you that few isn’t that heavy a task, even against a team like the Pittsburgh Penguins. And if you watched Game One, you know who the Penguins probably hate this morning.

Carey Price did what the NHL feared he would do.

light. Related Story. Petry lifts the Habs over Pittsburgh in overtime

Taking in the action was one thing, but the numbers that back up what he did are absurd. The Pittsburgh Penguins led the game in expected goals in all situations (4.72 vs. 2.17), dominated play at 5v5 and statistically-speaking, deserved to win that game (via Money Puck).

The first period, in particular, is something to raise your eyebrows at. The Pens outshot the Montreal Canadiens 16-5, out-chanced the Habs 13-3, and had a Corsi-For% of 70.97% (via Natural Stat Trick). That opening display by Price set the tone for Montreal and gave them time to dig in and get them to their game even though Pittsburgh continued to push.

And that’s only looking at the 5v5 chances. The Penguins had seven power plays and only converted on one of them in the second period via Bryan Rust.

The Montreal Canadiens do not win this game without Carey Price, and it was incredible to watch him take command of the net and stop the league’s best. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin had the most individual chances respectively for Pittsburgh, but the former started to snap a bit with also five high-danger chances (all at 5v5). Price stopped them.

Crosby’s goal saw him outwork Xavier Ouellet beside the net and bank a shot off Price’s skate and in. Rust, on the other hand, jumped on a rebound that went off of Patric Hornqvist after Artturi Lehkonen lost him heading to the net. It was only the dirty, gritty grindy goals that got past Price; besides that, he was perfect for the Montreal Canadiens.

The Habs need to find a way to not come out so cold and contain the Penguins. It was hard to watch the game at times as Price was getting overwhelmed, stopping shot after shot while the skaters struggled to get going. But he gave them that wiggle room to do so.

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The next game may not go that way. Going down 2-0 in a five-game series doesn’t seem to be Pittsburgh’s prerogative, and they’ll come out to write a lot of wrongs. The Habs need to focus on what worked and address what didn’t to have a better all-around effort. But if Carey Price stays at this level, who knows where the Montreal Canadiens can go.