The Montreal Canadiens played host to the New Jersey Devils in one of their final games of the season, looking to give their very young roster a few more reps this year. It was a special night for one of the veterans, however. Carey Price has put himself in the record books, tying Jacques Plante for most games played by a goaltender in Canadiens history, with his 556th outing last night.
Despite playing a New Jersey team hunting for one of the final wild-card spots in the conference, the game wasn’t as lopsided as one would imagine.
The game began with an even first period, with shots 8-7 in favour of the Devils. The edge on the scoreboard went to Montreal, as Daniel Carr broke the deadlock with seconds left in the frame, on a back-and-forth play during a Habs power play.
The Canadiens carried the lead throughout a scoreless second period, as both teams evenly tested each other, but weren’t able to solve either goaltender, as both Keith Kinkaid and Price came to play. Price had a solid overall performance, as he seemed dialed in and primed to perform on his milestone night, including a great save on a Jesper Bratt’s one-timer.
However, New Jersey’s retaliation came early in the final period, as rookie Nico Hischier got in position to deflect Sami Vatanen’s point shot, drawing the game even and putting pressure on the Canadiens.
Hischier had another chance later in the period on a breakaway, but Price kept strong and made another game-stopper on a breakaway.
They had plenty of opportunities to regain the lead, as the Devils took three separate penalties in the period, including giving up a 5-on-3 halfway through the frame. The combination of Alex Galchenyuk, Jonathan Drouin, Brendan Gallagher, Paul Byron and Jeff Petry looked deadly throughout the sequence, but weren’t able to get one by Kinkaid.
Perhaps pressing too hard for the man-advantage goal, the Devils jumped on an opportunity as soon as Taylor Hall left the box, and buried one past Price on a short-handed breakaway.
New Jersey held on for the rest of the game, taking the win at the end of the night, 2-1.
- Price looked strong in this one, despite having shaky appearances this season. Though there are conflicting opinions on having him play and be open to injury in a lost season, I think any reps a goaltender can get in counts in the long run, especially if he’s bound to bounce back next season.
- Price now eyes the all-time record in franchise games played. It feels like just yesterday he was one of the rookies in the NHL, and we’ve definitely seen him come a long way.
- A lot has been said about the roster this season, but seeing all the young blood in the roster in recent games has been refreshing. Kerby Rychel was an energy player last night, and Nikita Scherbak was effective when called upon. The core of players the Habs have could surprise a lot of people in the near future.
- With only three games left in the season, it’ll be interesting to see how the Canadiens fare, as they play the high-flying Winnipeg Jets, another lottery hopeful in the Detroit Red Wings, and finally the Toronto Maple Leafs.