Habs nip Panthers
MONTREAL—Head coach Michel Therrien called Carey Price his “closer,” referring to a baseball pitcher whose job it is to preserve a slim advantage late in the game and secure a win.
With the Canadiens leading by one to start the third period, Price turned away 16 shots by the Panthers in the final frame to give Montreal a 2-1 victory last night.
“The Panthers gave a big push in the third,” noted Therrien. “Again, Carey Price was solid.
“He shut the door. There was no way in his mind the Panthers would score another against him.
“I really liked his reaction,” Therrien added. “He played really well.
“He was like a closer in baseball.”
Price frustrated 11 different Panthers’ players in the third period, including four shots by Sean Bergenheim, who was Florida’s lone scorer on the night.
“We relied on him a little more than we would have liked to in the third,” Brendan Gallagher said of Price’s 16-save period.
“But he’s done that all year. He’s there for us when we need him.”
Before the barrage of shots in final period, the Canadiens (25-14-5) took the lead for good at 15:46 of the second when captain Brian Gionta beat Tim Thomas in the roof of the net.
Panthers’ captain Ed Jovanovski started the play by giving the puck away softly behind the Florida net to Tomas Plekanec, who fed a wide-open Gionta for his seventh goal of the year.
Jovanovski was back in the Panthers’ lineup after undergoing hip surgery last April. He made his season debut Saturday in a win over the Nashville Predators.
“It’s his second game since March,” Florida head coach Peter Horachek said about Jovanovski, who missed 83 games with the injury.
“It’s late in the game, he fanned on the pass. That stuff is going to happen sometimes,” he reasoned.
Montreal opened the scoring at 6:23 of the first period on the team’s first shot on net.
David Desharnais took a pass from Max Pacioretty while crossing the blueline to start the play, fanned on the initial shot, but then recovered to score his sixth goal of the year on the backhand.
Bergenheim later beat Price at 17:09 with a backhand goal similar to Desharnais’s earlier shot.
Rookie Aleksander Barkov had an assist on the goal, his team-leading 15th of the year, to extend his point streak to six games—the longest point streak by a rookie in Panthers’ history.
Elsewhere, Calgary edged Colorado 4-3, the N.Y. Islanders dumped Dallas 7-3, and Columbus nipped the N.Y. Rangers 4-3 (SO).