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Price was on the money

Canadiens goalie wouldn’t let the home team cash in

By Nancy Marrapese-Burrell
Globe Staff / April 15, 2011

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Montreal goaltender Carey Price termed it the perfect road game.

The Canadiens managed to get the drop on the Bruins in the opener of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinals, earning a 2-0 decision last night.

The Habs’ defense was sharp, the forwards were opportunistic, and Price was reliable and, as it turns out, unbeatable.

“If we were to write down on paper how we wanted to start the series, [that would be it],’’ said Price, who finished with 31 saves. “We came in here with a plan, to come out to a good start in this game and a good start in the series and we did that.’’

Both goals were scored by former Boston College star Brian Gionta, both times assisted by Scott Gomez.

“Those guys have won before, they know what it takes,’’ said Price. “They’ve got really good chemistry and those are the types of players who are really going to carry us through this.’’

The Canadiens did a stellar job of not allowing many shots to get through to Price, even in the second period when Boston outshot Montreal, 18-6.

“I could mention everybody on our hockey team from Andrei Kostitsyn to Brent Sopel, everybody is willing to sacrifice their body for the team,’’ said Price. “When I’ve got guys who are willing to sacrifice any part of their body to keep the puck out of the net and reaching me, I’ll let them know for sure because it’s encouraging and it’s good for our hockey team.

“I thought we were sitting back a little bit in the second period and I thought our guys did a really good job of kind of rope-a-doping it a little bit. [The Bruins] are a good hockey team and when they grab the momentum like that, they definitely ran with it and our guys just rallied and blocked shots and kept it simple and we were fortunate to keep the puck out of the net.’’

Winning the opener allows the Canadiens to breathe a little bit easier heading into tomorrow night’s Game 2 because they know they have earned at least a split in Boston. Price said they’ll try to continue what they started.

“I’m just working with my defensemen,’’ said Price. “We’ve had good chemistry all year. All I try to do is make the first save and they’ve done a really good job of getting to the rebounds and blocking guys out and blocking shots. We definitely played an excellent road game today and that’s exactly the way we have to keep playing throughout the series.’’

For Gionta, it was a festive return to Boston, where he had played so many memorable college games.

“I enjoyed my time there, it was quite an experience for me and one of the best four years of my life,’’ he said.

Gionta said he wasn’t doing anything special last night.

“That’s what you’re hoping for this time of year,’’ he said. “You’re doing the same thing as you would always but they just found a way.’’

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at marrapese@globe.com.

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