In the Habs' Room: Price gets credit for holding off high-octane Oilers

"It could have a different game if we didn't have him back there," Brendan Gallagher said. "They have some great players and I thought we did a pretty decent job, but we have a pretty great one between the pipes to make those saves."

Jan 16, 2021; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) makes a save on Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) during the third period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

There was an anxious moment when Connor McDavid had a breakaway while the Canadiens were nursing a 1-0 lead late in the first period of Saturday’s game at Rogers Place.

But Brendan Gallagher said he was confident goaltender Carey Price was going to make the save.

“Probably the best player in the world coming down on him, but you’re sitting on the bench and you just know he’s going to make the save,” Gallagher said. “It’s a big part of the game, a key moment, and he steps up. He probably had three or four of those in the game and, on the bench, you’re used to it. But you have to check yourself at times and realize how fortunate you are.”

Price made 34 saves in the 5-1 win over the high-octane Oilers.

“It could have a different game if we didn’t have him back there,” Gallagher said. “They have some great players and I thought we did a pretty decent job, but we have a pretty great one between the pipes to make those saves. He’s so calm, so cool, and that allows you to  keep the momentum on your side. I think he’s getting better. He puts so much work into his craft and I think he’s going to enjoy playing with this team because we’re doing  a lot of things to help him out.”

“I think we stuck to our game plan tonight,” Petry added. “Where we got in trouble in Toronto was in third second period when we got sloppy with the puck, but we  managed the puck well tonight.”

Petry showed the importance of getting the puck to the net on his second goal. Goaltender Mikko Koskinen got his stick on Petry’s low shot, but the puck caromed into the net off defenceman Ethan Bear’s backside.

“When the puck goes around the net, everyone shifts and I saw Tuna (Tomas Tatar) tied up in front and I was just trying to get the puck to the net and maybe it goes off a skate or there’s a deflection by Tuna. I was just trying to get the puck to the net and create chaos.”

The Canadiens added size and grit during the off-season and that was reflected in the statistics. For  second consecutive game, Montreal registered more hits than the opposition and they blocked 21 shots, while the Oilers blocked 12.

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Price hasn’t enjoyed a lot of success against the Oilers over his career. He came into this game with a 3-9-1 record, an .861 save percentage and a 3.65 goals-against average, but Price said he didn’t think about the past.

“I’ve always thought every game is a new one and I just try to have a good start,” Price said.

The good start Saturday included the stop on McDavid.

“It wasn’t really a read, it was kind of a reaction,” Price said of the stop. “He came in with a lot of speed and I was able to close the holes.”

It was one of only two shots on goal for McDavid and, while 2020 HartTrophy winner Leon Draisaitl had six shots on goal, the Canadiens did a good job of limiting Edmonton’s scoring chances.

“They’re a team with speed and they like to wind it up, and the key to our game plan was to stay above those guys when they were swinging, and our forwards did a job allowing (the defence) to have a good gap,” said defenceman Jeff Petry, who was also one of the offensive leaders with a pair of goals.

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