Price gets 40th win in Canadiens shutout of Sharks
MONTREAL — In the final weeks of a season garnering him plenty of trophy buzz, goaltender Carey Price continues to climb in the Montreal Canadiens record books.
Price stopped all 29 shots he faced in Montreal’s 2-0 win over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night at the Bell Centre.
The shutout was his ninth of the season, setting a new personal best, and the 34th of his career, tying him with Bill Durnan for fourth on the Canadiens all-time list.
“As a kid, I never really would have pictured myself in this situation,” said Price, who picked up his 40th win of the season, joining only the likes of Jacques Plante and Ken Dryden before him. “I’ve been blessed immensely and I’ve been helped a lot to get to where I’m at, and I’ve got a lot of people to thank.”
Center Tomas Plekanec and right winger Brendan Gallagher scored for Montreal (46-20-7), which beat San Jose for the first time since Dec. 4, 2010.
Price’s counterpart Antti Niemi made 27 saves for the Sharks (35-29-8).
“It’s disappointing,” San Jose center Logan Couture said. “I thought we played a pretty good game. First period we gave them some chances off the rush but then we tightened it up as the game went on. Third period, we were taking the play to them and Price made some nice saves.”
“I had a lot of chances. It’s frustrating when it doesn’t go in.”
Plekanec snapped the Canadiens’ 215-minute scoreless drought against the Sharks at 18:46 of the first period. After picking up the puck in their own end and skating down on a 3-on-2 rush, Plekanec fed left winger Alex Galchenyuk on the right side inside the San Jose blue line.
Galchenyuk dished off a near-blind backhand pass seemingly intended for right winger Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau, but the puck found its way to Plekanec, who made no mistake with an open cage from the bottom of the left circle.
The goal was Montreal’s first against San Jose since Dec. 1, 2011, when Erik Cole hit the twine midway through the third period in a 4-3 shootout loss.
Since then, the Canadiens had been shut out in three straight meetings.
“We came in prepared and focused and wanted to push back against them,” Galchenyuk, who earned his 100th career point, said. “We did and goaltending was unbelievable once again and I thought we played solid tonight.”
Sharks defenseman Brent Burns came close to getting his team on the board late in the third period but his shot hit the crossbar. A few moments later, Price made a stick save on Couture.
The loss put a damper on San Jose’s playoff hopes. The Sharks find themselves eight points back of the second wild card spot with 10 games remaining.
“It’s painful,” center Joe Pavelski said. “The guys in here did a tremendous job of just focusing (on our game). We played hard up and down the lineup, guys handled the puck pretty well. Nemo (Antti Niemi) was good for us when he had to be.
“It obviously doesn’t matter if (the teams ahead) win or lose. We’ve got to win.”
Gallagher sealed it with an empty-net goal.
NOTES: Montreal made one lineup change from Thursday, with D Jeff Petry returning after missing the last game with the flu. ... D Nathan Beaulieu sat out to make room for Petry, joining D Mike Weaver, D Sergei Gonchar and C/W Brian Flynn as the healthy scratches. ... San Jose scratched LW John Scott and D Scott Hannan. ... Sharks D Marc-Edouard Vlasic, a Montreal native, had his jersey retired by his junior club, the Quebec Remparts, on Friday night. ... LW Max Pacioretty is one of just two Habs since 1997-98 to record at least 275 shots on goal in a season (former captain Brian Gionta is the other). ... Montreal D Tom Gilbert took a puck to the face in the final seconds of the middle frame and did not return.