Heading into Saturday night's matchup, the Montreal Canadiens had been shut out by the San Jose Sharks three straight times, with the Habs putting forth listless efforts that showed a wide gap between a true contender and a developing team. This time however, the Canadiens were determined to flip the script, no one more so than Carey Price.
A low scoring game that needed a shutout to ensure a win sounds like par for the course type of victory for the Canadiens, usually getting outshot significantly, but this was a very different type of game. The Canadiens stayed right with the Sharks possession-wise in the first period, with a flurry in the final minutes leading to a fantastic pass through traffic by Alex Galchenyuk that found Tomas Plekanec with an open net, ending the Sharks' shutout streak against the Habs at 215 minutes, and notching Galchenyuk's 100th career point.
In the second period, the Canadiens controlled the flow of play in spite of score effects, with the Sharks unable to manufacture any offense without the Joe Thornton line on the ice, who, with Joe Pavelski, were absurdly dominant. While the Sharks did eventually take over the possession advantage in the game, it wasn't until halfway through the third period. Considering the talent the Sharks have on the roster, and how mediocre the Canadiens have been in regards to possession this year, that's not bad. Yes, the standards are low.
The Canadiens also battled through a bit of adversity, as they went without a single chance on the powerplay against San Jose, something that has become oddly commonplace between these teams. In fact, the Habs have had just a single powerplay against the Sharks in Montreal since 2009, which is kind of astonishing.
The second period also had an endearing moment between Logan Couture and Carey Price, when Couture fell over while skating towards the net and crashed into an unsuspecting Price, then apologized and reached out to Price to see if he was okay. It was one of those moments that are so rare in sports because of how competitive athletes are. Real concern over possibly accidentally injuring someone during a game, you've gotta respect Couture for that.
Speaking of Price, it's time for that part of the recap where we talk about how incredible he is. With his shutout win over the Sharks, Price is now leading the NHL in every major statistical category for goaltenders. That's something that, if it holds out, will happen for the first time ever in the modern era.
Price's shutout also brought his career save percentage up to .920, which is pretty incredible when you consider how many poor defensive teams he's played played on in Montreal.
Further to the point, the gap between Price's .938 save percentage and the goaltender in second place is as large as the gap between the second place goaltender and 16th. In Hasek's best season in 1998-99, the gap between him and the second place goalie was equivalent to the gap between second and 10th. As far as stopping pucks goes in hockey, there's Price, and there's everyone else.
There are a lot of reasons to not believe these Habs are going to do anything special in the playoffs, but every fan of this team should soak in every moment of what Price is doing this year. Whether it's saves he makes look routine, or the show-stopping variety that only he can make like robbing Couture to ensure a win late on Saturday night, this is a record-breaking season, something that's going held to the same standard as the best years of Dominik Hasek. Embrace that.