On most nights during the regular season, a typical phrase you'd hear was, "All Price needs is one goal." During game six of the first round, the common saying came to life once again, as the Ottawa Senators threw everything but the kitchen sink at Montreal's MVP, but to no avail.
The lone goal of the game came via some fantastic hand-eye coordination by Brendan Gallagher, who was finally rewarded for his solid play throughout the series. He managed to bat a puck out of mid-air, earning the Canadiens a very important lead, and quickly taking the wind from the sails of Senators fans, who up to that point had done a fantastic job creating a raucous atmosphere at the Canadian Tire Centre.
The Senators came very close to tying the game, but Price was up to the challenge, denying Kyle Turris' cross-crease attempt in typical Price fashion.
The Senators continued to pepper Price with an endless stream of shots, 43 to be exact, but as Michel Therrien explained it, "Price was in his bubble."
After game 5 Price was visibly upset with his performance, which is a rare occurrence for the usually calm netminder. That type of reaction wouldn't bode well for most goaltenders, but Price is not most goaltenders. He let off a little bit of steam, and that seemed to be exactly what he needed.
"Last game was irrelevant. It just came down to getting prepared for tonight." said a gleeful Price after the game.
Ottawa had plenty of opportunities to tie the game, with four powerplays to Montreal's one, including one in the final minutes of the game, but Price was not going to be beat.
To be fair, a quick whistle robbed Jean-Gabriel Pageau of a goal, but Dave Cameron and his players did not blame the referees, seeing as how they had every opportunity possible to earn a legitimate goal, and failed to do so.
It would have been very easy for Cameron to cry bloody murder in the post-game conference, but he avoided playing the blame game, instead acknowledging that beating the Canadiens four times in a row was a Herculean task. Last night, Hercules himself wouldn't have made a difference for the Senators. It was Price's night, and a a perfect example of how important he is to this team.
In the end, the Senators had nothing left in their tank, and it's hard to blame them for running out of steam. It has to be said that their run to make the playoffs was incredibly impressive. Cameron was proud of his club, and with good reason. I can't help but think that starting Hammond in the first two games was the error that sunk the series for the Sens, but let's not get bogged down in what-ifs.
- I asked P.K. Subban after the game how confident his team was heading into the second round, and he didn't shy away from mentioning they have plenty of aspects of their game that need to be improved, especially the powerplay.
- Therrien seemed to be quite satisfied with Lars Eller's performance against the Senators, going as far as saying "He had a great series". I know it's easy to say that Eller deserves more ice time, but as it stands he's doing a fantastic job generating shots as a shutdown centre, and Therrien seems to be confident with him in that position. It liberates Plekanec into a more offensive role, and there aren't many players that can take over Plekanec duties. Eller is one of the rare players that fits the mould. More ice time probably wouldn't hurt, but as it stands he's definitely helping the team in his 3rd line role.
- Jeff Petry is quickly becoming one of the best players on the team. No offense to Markov, who didn't particularly have a great series, but Petry seems to have cemented himself as the best defender once you take Subban out of the equation.
- Last night was the first time all season the Senators were shutout.
- Therrien summed it up perfectly. "It's a good thing we have Carey Price on our side."