Eric Wilbur's Sports Blog

Luck and 'suck': The Game 1 story of Carey Price and Tuukka Rask


The bad news? Carey Price was good. He was really good.

The good news? He canít be that lucky again in this series.

Can he?

Thereís little that can be taken away from the performance the Montreal Canadiens goalie gave in net Thursday night, riding a pair of P.K. Subban power play goals to a 4-3, double overtime victory over the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series. Price made 48 saves on the evening. His teammates blocked another 30 en route to the pipes, which witnessed too many near misses to count and elicited enough pings that the Bruins could be justified for thinking the netís inanimate presence was taunting them.

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Price stoned David Krejci twice. He frustrated Reilly Smith and Jarome Iginla. Heís also kissing the post to his left for stopping a Dougie Hamilton power play ripper. Heís probably still looking for the puck Carl Soderberg snuck by him in overtime, somehow, someway, inexplicably not crossing the goal line.

Price was awesome in Game 1. He also had a horseshoe lodged deep within his poutine-infused intestines.

ďIíve said it before and Iíll say it again, in my opinion [Price] is the best goaltender in the league,Ē Subban said, ďand he showed that again today.íí

Thatís a similar refrain said about the guy at the other end of the ice, Bostonís Tuukka Rask, the Vezina Trophy finalist who nonetheless is also starting to compile some ugly statistics against Montreal that few in Boston want to acknowledge as becoming a problematic trend. Rask is now just 3-11-3 against the Habs. Thursday night was his ninth failure to beat the Canadiens on home ice. Heís now 0-9 against his teamís fiercest rival in his own building.

That could be better.

Of course, Raskís latest attempt was marred by defenseman Matt Bartkowski, who probably got a talking to from Claude Julien in the wee hours Friday morning after committing a pair of penalties (the second of which was a renegade call, particularly in double overtime) that led to Subbanís blasts. Torey Krug, who made up for his boners with a third period score that knotted the game at two, coughed up the puck leading to Rene Bourqueís goal in the second. Francis Bouillon wouldnít have even been there had Krejci found a way to clear the puck from behind the net just about midway through the third.

But after the game, Rask still needed a Sean Maguire moment. ďItís not your fault.Ē

ďI was $%&* tonight,Ē Rask said. ďIíve gotta be better.

ďWhen you suck, you suck. Thatís it. What I can I say? Itís the playoffs,Ē

What can you say, indeed?

As for Price, this was only the second look the Montreal goalie had at the Bruins all season, with backup Peter Budaj getting the nod for three of the four meetings. Heís now riding a five-game playoff winning streak, watching his teammates score four goals, almost the entire amount Rask allowed (six) in the Bruinsí five-game dispatch of the Detroit Red Wings.

ďI donít want to sit here and point out things I did well throughout the game or point out individual efforts. It was a full team effort,Ē Price said. ďWe just gutted it out. It was a hard-fought game, it couldíve gone either way.íí

Thatís encouraging for the Bruins even in the wake of ultimate disappointment. They had every opportunity to put this game away, only to come away with little other than dumb luck to explain why theyíre not up 1-0 in this series. The puck flew here. The puck got directed thattaway. The puck plain just put on the brakes in the case of Soderbergís near-miss. Bartkowski and Krug deserve just as much as the blame as Rask seems to believe should be on his shoulders. Letís just blame the damned puck for its screwy GPS system.

Just in case NBC didnít tell you, this is the 34th playoff meeting between the Bruins and Canadiens, and the latest showdown couldnít have started with more of a dramatic opener. The Bís and Habs are at it again. Bostonians are freaking out while Montrealers are flaunting their teamís 2014 playoff record, with nary a blemish.

Itís not the way the Bruins wanted to start things out. Itís not the way they should have started things out.

Rask has another chance on Saturday for his first win against the Canadiens at the Garden. Thatís a situation that still seems difficult to fathom.

Price has a shot to put his Canadiens up 2-0, a situation that didnít turn out so well the last time for him, Subban, and Co.

ďI donít even think we can think about winning the series,íí said Subban. ďA couple years ago, we came in here and took two games and went back and lost in Game 7. When thereís success, youíve got to take it and get better. There are a lot of things we need to get better on. We canít be giving up 50 shots, I can tell you that, for the rest of the series. Pricey shouldnít have to stop that many pucks. He shouldnít have to.íí

Just in case, serendipity showed up and took care of the rest.

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