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Eyes on the Price: Don't poke the bear

A third straight overtime victory for the Habs, a third shutout for Carey Price.

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Montreal Canadiens Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Carey Price and Sergei Bobrovsky treated the Bell Centre faithful to an overtime shutout duel Tuesday night before the Habs emerged victorious over the Columbus Blue Jackets, 1-0, on Alex Galchenyuk’s second consecutive sudden death power-play game-winner.

Really, though, Columbus never had a chance.

The Hockey Gods were not kind to the Blue Jackets after Scott Hartnell (43) clipped Price, quite unaccidentally, on his way through the crease 44 seconds into the contest. Columbus rang three shots off the iron, and partially (CBJ did get a point) squandered a stellar performance from Bobrovsky. The Gods even made the visitors lose the game twice.

After the Jackets opened the extra session with a full minute’s worth of possession, it looked like Price might get an assist on a game-winning counterattack by Max Pacioretty.

Price, Phillip Danault, and Pacioretty show brilliant situational awareness on this sequence. The Habs have yet to touch the puck, and have been chasing the Blue Jackets around their own end for the entire possession. Price makes a good save on Columbus’ Zach Werenski (8), and has to cover the rebound to prevent a second opportunity by the Columbus rookie, who wisely continues toward the net.

Plenty of goalies know to keep the play alive during overtime and look for rush opportunities, but in this situation, most would likely freeze the puck to allow their tired teammates to change. Price, on the other hand, looks up and sees that Brandon Dubinsky (17) is the only Blue Jacket above the face-off dots. Instead of taking a stoppage, he pushes the puck to Danault.

Pacioretty, also aware that Dubinsky is outnumbered, sees Price release the puck, and takes off down the ice. Danault then slings him a beautiful pass off the boards for a breakaway chance. Although the puck eventually crosses the goal line in the scramble that follows Bobrovsky’s initial save, the goal is waved off, and Price loses his game-winning assist.

Immediately following Pacioretty’s non-goal, Columbus generated four significant scoring chances within about 30-35 seconds. Ordinarily, I’d spend a few hundred words and several images breaking down Price’s techniques here. Sometimes, however, there’s just nothing to add. Presented without commentary, therefore, is just over half a minute of goaltending perfection.

Interrupted only by Pacioretty’s breakaway, Columbus generated sustained offensive pressure in the overtime period for nearly three full minutes until Seth Jones was called for the holding penalty on Andrei Markov that led to Galchenyuk’s game-winner with 2:06 remaining.

The Habs, playing their third consecutive overtime game and their second in two nights, simply couldn’t keep up with the Jackets’ aggressive attack during the 3-on-3 session. It didn't matter.

Columbus could have held the puck until Wednesday morning. The Blue Jackets weren’t getting anything past Carey Price.

You poke the bear, you take your chances.